The Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa (MJC)’s protracted battle to secure and preserve what’s known as the Zandvliet farm in Macassar – which holds the heritage of Shaykh Yusuf of Macassar – continues today. Many regard Zandvliet as the birthplace of Islam in Southern Africa, but the MJC’s battle to secure the land around the kramat of Sheikh Yusuf Al-Makassari is currently disputed by two other parties. The matter has been placed on the court roll for a pre-trial at the Cape Town Labour Court today, where the MJC hopes to hear that a mediator will be appointed to resolve the situation.
According to a historian for the area, attempts by the MJC to secure the land started as long ago as 1998.
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“The attempts from the MJC, on behalf of the Muslims of South Africa, started back in 1998 when the process of restitution opened up,” said historian Nazeem Braaf.
“At the time, the father of the MJC, the late Shaykh Nazim Mohamed had the foresight and vision to make sure that the Muslims under the leadership of the MJC lay claim to land that has been used by the Muslim community for over 300 years.”
“It is a heritage claim for Muslims…it is there for preservation of the heritage of Islam in Southern Africa.”
Braaf says that rapid urbanisation in the area is threatening the land and added that other groups are attempting to lay claim, saying that their cows have grazed there before.
“I think our heritage affords a bit more consideration than people’s cows who have grazed land,” said Braaf.
Braaf indicated that the MJC has made several attempts to arrange mediation in an effort to resolve the matter timeously and amicably. However, according to him, only one of the parties remain an obstacle and refuse to engage in a mediation process.
“We are not claiming exclusive use of the area, but certainly not use at the expense of the Muslim community in Southern Africa,” he said.
According to Braaf, the three land claimants involved in today’s proceedings are the MJC, the Macassar Land Claims Committee and the Kammies Darries Trust.
The proceedings started at 10am.