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Mayor mulls over madrassa closure

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By Anees Teladia

Mayor of Cape Town Dan Plato is mulling over a decision to close Madrassa-Tu-Taliya in Lotus River, in light of calls by the community that any shutdown will severely impact the school. Learners, teachers and parents fear that they may be forced to move after several unsuccessful attempts at dialogue with the City of Cape Town and the Mayor over an extension of their lease agreement. The mayor has asked the madrassa leadership to provide him with the “necessary space” to further assess the issue.

“I did ask for the full documentation from the administration, regarding what happened six months ago…to see the nature of the agreement between the two entities,” said the Mayor.

“I have indicated to the madrassa leadership that they must give me the necessary space to study the documentation with some senior officials. When that process is finalised, I will get back to them.”

According to a member of the madrassa committee Yusuf Khan Dalwai, an agreement was made for a three-year lease, which expired at the end of January this year. Dalwai said part of the agreement signed by chairperson Sheik Mohammad Adams at the time was that the lease could be renewed. The City has however refused to do so, citing a clause within the agreement.

“Six months prior to the lease expiring, we were informed that they will not be renewing the lease agreement on the basis of one clause stating that ‘any party at any time may cancel the lease agreement,” he told VOC News in a previous interview.

Dalwai however added than an extension of six months was given, at the end of which “(they) need to be out”.

However, the Mayor asserted that the madrassa was duly informed about the decision.

“Now that the six-month period is up, the madrassa wants to come out of the woodworks to address the matter.”

“If any condition was contravened… that is a very important issue,” stated Mayor Plato.

He also elaborated on why the madrassa may be asked to vacate.

“It is very important for me to understand precisely what happened…officials might not like what you are doing and on that basis, issue a notice to vacate”

It was then also mentioned by the Mayor that there is the potential issue of students being allowed to stay overnight at the madrassa.

Should this be found true and indeed in contravention of the lease agreement, it would be an example of a compelling issue that the Mayor would need to decide on.

But Khan Dalwai said it was only madrassa chairperson Sheik Mohammad Adams that had been sleeping on the premises, after he approached the City for approval in 2016. The decision for the shaykh to live on the premises was made after a spate of vandalism incidents.

“The organisation asked Shaykh Muhammad to live there as a house master as he conducts the late night programmes and the feeding scheme preparation that takes place late at night,” Khan Dalwai explained.

Furthermore, Khan Dalwai said their lease agreement states that if the tenant wants to make changes to the premises, written consent must be obtained from the City. Shaykh Muhammad wrote to City officials in 2016 to obtain approval for classrooms with removal structures at the back of the premises. After liaising with the said official, they then received a verbal consent. The first step was to lay a cement flooring for the structure to be positioned on. Because the written consent was not contained, the school decided to put everything hold, to wait for the written consent.

Plato added that if he finds there to be no merit in not renewing the lease, or that the reasons were not serious enough to refuse to renew, he sees no reason why the madrassa should not be given a warning instead. VOC

“Educational institutions are important for the city,” the Mayor concluded. VOC

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