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MJC marks Heritage Day at Kramat

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“There has been a systematic degree of usurping the rights of the Muslims in the area of the Kramat Faure.” This is according to local researcher Nazeem Braaf, who addressed the Muslim Judicial Council’s (MJC) continued attempts to have the iconic piece of land declared a Muslim Heritage Site.

The sanctity of the Faure Kramat has come under threat, after it emerged that various land claims have been submitted to acquire portions of the Zandvliet farm. It has been reported that a process of land transfer is “at an advanced stage”. The MJC has also bemoaned the lack of attention afforded to their claim to have the site declared a heritage site, particularly since the claim was issued nearly 15 years ago.

The Faure Kramat was initially acquired by the Muslim community in 1862, when it was declared a Waqf for the entire community in South Africa. The agreement also granted Muslims the right of use to nearly 200 hectares bordering the Kramat itself. Those surrounding lands are now subject to multiple land claims.

According to Braaf, the site was famously visited by former President Nelson Mandela, as well as former Indonesian president, Suharto, following the 1994 general elections. He said that at the time of the visit, then Minister of Cultural Affairs, Pallo Jordan, initiated a process to have the area declared a heritage site.

“In fact he followed suit, and declared the shrine as well as what is commonly called the Rahima Cottage, a heritage site,” he said.

However, it was never envisaged that the community’s rights in the surrounding areas would ever come under threat. Braaf noted that due to the impact of the Group Areas Act during the Apartheid era, much of that land was sold to developing companies without the knowledge of the residents of the area.

With a number of claimants having now made advances to try and acquire the land, he said the issue was becoming a massive ‘bone of contention’.

“Whilst we have submitted a claim on behalf of the MJC, the land claims commissioner has not done any verification of this particular claim,” he explained.

The MJC has since intervened through court proceedings, as well as a direct letter to President Jacob Zuma. The Land Claims Court has given the land commissioner until the end of September to validate the MJC’s claim.

MJC secretary general, Maulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, said the issue continued to remain a focal area of concern for them. He was also critical of the systematic attempts to isolate the community’s claim to the land.

“The urgency of it demands that we, as a Muslim community, must respond,” he said.

He urged the community to stand up and help protect the sanctity of the iconic Kramat, by signing a petition that will be distributed to Mosques across the city on Friday. The petition will also be available via the VOC website.

“Now is the time to show and to prove their loyalty to the land,” he said.

The MJC have also called for a gathering at the Faure Kramat on the 24th September, to raise awareness to the issue. Allie urged community members to come out in their numbers and show support for the cause.

“We would want to appeal, the 24th September is a significant day, and we need to make it very special in securing this land for future generations of the Muslims to come,” he said.

Wednesday’s programme will begin promptly at 11:00am, and will feature addresses by Ebrahim Rhoda, Dr. Anwar Nagia, Nazeem Braaf, Maulana Ighsaan Hendricks, and Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels. There will also be a handing over of a heritage claim document to a top government representative. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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