The City of Cape Town has apparently issued the Open Mosque with a compliance notice after it had failed to meet certain regulations. Al Jama-ah party whip, councillor Wasfie Hassiem, visited the mosque and found workers picking up the carpets late on Friday afternoon.
According to Al Jama-ah party leader Ganief Hendricks, the City issued a warning to Open Mosque founder Dr Taj Hargey on Thursday that they did not apply to change the use of the building from a warehouse to a mosque.
“They were informed that they would be in the wrong if they proceed with the Jumuah. The district manager of planning spoke to Dr Hargey and he then asked if they could get once off permission to use the premises on a Friday but the City refused,” said Hendricks.
They were then warned that if they do proceed they will be issued with a warning or notice after which the place will have to be closed down. The organisation may now proceed to make an application to use the premises as a mosque but that could take up to four months.
The City has stated that one of the conditions for the rezoning is that for every 10 musallees (congregation) there would have to be a parking bay as well as a parking bay for people with disabilities. Hendricks said it would be challenging to meet the requirements, given the nature of the building and where it is situated.
VOC News attempted to make contact with Dr Taj Hargey, but was told he was in Durban and Johannesburg where he has been invited “to meet influential backers” of the Open Mosque.
According to the secretary of the Open Mosque, Faiza Ahmad, they would resist any efforts by the “vindictive supporters of the MJC” to prevent the functioning of the place of worship.
“No intimidation from pro-MJC people like Ganief Hendricks and others will be tolerated as religious freedom and free expression is a constitutional right. The Open Mosque will abide by all city bylaws and is in the process of doing so. It is disgraceful that the MJC and its unthinking flock will resort to all kinds of dirty tricks to shut the mosque down when they have no valid religious and legal reasons to do so,” she said.
In the meantime, Hendricks said that the City will proceed with the notice and they will enforce the City’s municipal regulations. The City’s district manager has stated they cannot use the premises as a mosque unless the necessary applications have been made.
“The directorates of the City such as health, safety and traffic have all given their input that the place is not suitable to be a mosque due to the fact that it is the lives of those making use of the premises that are at stake,” Hendricks said. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)