The sale by public auction of two erven of sacred land on the oldest Muslim cemetery in South Africa has been cancelled by the Claremart Auction Group. Claremart previously announced that it was instructed by the current title holders to sell two erven on the historical Tana Baru site, located off Longmarket Street. The decision comes amid increased public pressure by the Tana Baru Trust and the Bo-Kaap community to stop any selling of sacred burial land. Claremart director Andrew Koch has confirmed that the group cannot proceed with the auction of a property whose ownership is under dispute.
“We feel that the responsible thing to do it to cancel the auction, which we have done,” he said.
He indicated that he had discussed the matter with the sellers, a group of heirs from the Muslim community, and advised them to re-engage with residents of Bo-Kaap on the historical and religious significance of the land and its ownership.
“Claremart were instructed by the group of heirs, the current legal title holders, to proceed to auction, but were not aware of the ongoing dispute regarding the future of the land, being a part of the cemetery and of significance to the community. Once we became aware of this, despite the fact that we were properly mandated, we immediately engaged the Community directly.”
Koch said they had contacted attorney and community activist Igshaan Higgins, who represents Bo-Kaap Youth, a strong civic organisation focussed on the heritage and future of the area, and informed them of the intention to cancel the auction, which was welcomed by the organisation.
“As an auction firm with a longstanding relationship with the Muslim Community of Cape Town in particular, we feel it is the correct way forward and this will allow the conversation regarding the dispute surrounding the land to be taken further within the community which we believe is the best way forward for all concerned, working on the elevated attention the issue has now received from the recent press coverage and auction marketing, which has now been stopped”.
“We trust the current registered owners and the community will reach a better situation going forward and one which benefits the wider Community as a whole.”
Family split over land sale
Meanwhile, VOC News has also reliably learnt that several family members, who are legal owners of the land, have opposed the sale. Fagmia Abdullah whose late husband, Ismail Abdullah, became an heir to the land after his grandfather, Abbas Abdullah Doutie, purchased the land from the heirs of Imam Samodien.
Speaking to VOC News, Fagmia explained that the land was acquired through a title deed that was ceded to the family by the heirs of Imam Samodien in 1975 and that the land is now legally owned by two families, the Abdullah and Doutie families.
She said that her husband’s late father, Sulaiman Abdullah, was the son of Abbas Abdullah-Doutie.
“There are 11 people’s names on there that it is given to; so each person was given one-eleventh share. Abbas Abdullah Doutie has one-eleventh share. That is how they acquired the land; in 1975 it was given from Shaykh Samodien to the Abdullah-Doutie family.”
She noted that the Abdullah family has in its possession two title deeds for erf three and four, which is registered in the Abdullah-Doutie’s name, dated in 1975. One of the erven numbers is referenced as 681 and the second as 677.
Fagmia said that Sulaiman brother’s daughter is at the centre of the auctioning of the land.
“The Abdullah family has been split in two. One side wants to sell the land. [This person] acquired an attorney, Gideon Truter Attorney’s.”
“I was acting on behalf the late Sulaiman’s eight children. I said to her that there is no way that we are going to give an executorship to someone we don’t know. [But] She was very persistent in selling the land.
Fagmia said that while Sulaiman’s children initially wished to sell the land, upon inspecting the land approximately one month ago, the family decided against the sale.
“We saw that there were quboor and did not feel right about selling it after that, because it is sacred ground. We said to ourselves that if we are going to sell this land, it is just not right…that is when we made the decision.
“On the first day of Ramadan, we got an email from Gideon Truter Attorneys for us to sign something, saying that we give them permission for Claremart to auction the land for R20 million and the relative who acquired these attorneys, was going to get two per cent of the total of R20 million,” Fagmia stated.
Fagmia said that she urged the family not to proceed with the sale and refuse to sign the document.
“I sent an email to the attorneys and said that we will not sign it and we want nothing more to do with it…Islamically it is not right at all,” she asserted.
Fagmia said that she cannot confirm what the relative’s motive for wanting to sell the land is.
She indicated that while she cannot comment on the Doutie family’s intent with the land, she confirmed that her late husband’s siblings have not signed a document of intent to sell.
“Just to clarify, initially we wanted to sell the land and the eight children applied to nominate Adiela Slamdien [Nee Abdullah] and my late husband that was still alive at that time [he passed on Easter Friday] for executor-ship at the master of the High Court on the 11th share of the late Abbas Abdullah Doutie on erf 681 and 677.
Copies of the Deed of Transfer
“[The] Names of the eight children are; the late Ismail Abdullah, Igsaan Abdullah, Moegamat Abdullah, Zeid Abdullah, Adiela Slamdien (Nee Abdullah), Fahiema Abrahams (Nee Abdullah), Fierdous Warasally (Nee Abdullah), Elhaam Daniels (Nee Abdullah),” she added.
She said that the family has agreed that the land is waqf property and does not have intent to sell the land.
“At first, we did not know [that the land is sacred], we thought that is it just commercial land, because that is what the one relative informed us about. But upon visiting [the land] we saw it in a whole new perspective and this is sacred, waqf land.”
According to Fagmia, the children of the late Sulaiman Abdullah have noted the sanctity of the land and have indicated that they are willing to hand the land over to the Tana Baru Trust at no cost.
“Whatever you want us to sign, the eight children of the late Sulaiman Abdullah, we will sign that we are ceding it to the Tana Baru…we do not want a cent of that property,” she confirmed.
VOC News have reached out to the other party, who indicated that an official response will be given soon. VOC