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Mowbray cemetery open to visits, amid easing of restrictions

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For the first time in several months, Muslims can now ziyarat (visit) their deceased loved ones at Mowbray cemetery. The cemetery had been open only for burials, amid stringent COVID-19 lockdown regulations imposed by the government to curtail the spread of the virus. Due to a decline in Covid-19 cases and the stabilization of hospitalizations and fatalities, the South African government announced the easing of Alert Level 2 last week. This resulted in the reopening of various sectors and allowance for family visits of up to 10 people in a household. According to the secretary of the Moslem Cemetery Board, Faizel Sayed, this is what prompted the discussions into reopening the makbara completely.

Visitation hours will be between 8.30am – 4 pm, however, visits will take place under strict conditions.

– A maximum of 50 people will be allowed at any given time, regulated at the gate.
– Visitors need to bring their own hand sanitizer
– A face mask must be worn at all times
– Social distancing must remain in place, including the prohibition of hugging and shaking hands
– Visitors are to check-in at the main gate (closest to Upper Salt River main rd)
– Vehicles must be parked outside the burial grounds

Amid several complaints around the board’s decision to disallow burial after 5pm, Sayed admitted that this needs to be reassessed.

“There was a number of fundamental issues and Covid-19 had put further pressure onto that system. We are upgrading on a number of levels.” he said.

“We want to make the cemetery more accessible to the community. All cemeteries should be a garden that families can walk into and make dua for their loved ones, sit on a Sunday afternoon and pluck out the leaves in peace and harmony. “

Sayed said that the board is looking at ways to improve administration, security, protocols “and closer working relationship with the community of Cape Town.”

The security aspect was a big concern, where people may come alone and fall victim to crime. Sayed said that security cameras will be installed in coming weeks which will be monitored “around the clock to protect those who are inside”.

“We want to urge the public to take pride of their loved one’s (gravesites), feel free, but approach the office when you need assistance. We don’t want the public to be harassed by anybody in the cemetery and feel obligated by anyone to pay money – rather come to the office and we will deploy someone to assist you,” said Sayed.

Listen to the interview here:

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