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Taj Hotel apologises for Cape Malay Choir silence request

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The Taj Hotel manager in Cape Town has apologised for asking that the Cape Malay Choirs not play music when walking past the hotel during the traditional annual parade.

“I recognize in retrospect that my request to Mayoral Committee Member for Tourism, Events and Economic Development, Garreth Bloor, was insensitive and would like to retract it,” said Michael Pownall.

He said that the management of the hotel had embraced the heritage of Cape Town since the hotel opened five years ago and that they respected the integral part that the Cape Minstrels and its parades played in Cape Town culture.

Earlier on Thursday, mayoral committee member for tourism, event and economic development Garreth Bloor confirmed that they had received the letter from the Taj, which was in turn passed on to the Cape Malay choir organisers.

The letter, written by Pownall reads: “They [choirs] should just march past and into Adderley St without music – This really is critical as I have a 100% full Hotel with very high-rate paying visitors, whom will SERIOUSLY complain if they cannot sleep due to this event.

“We have had some co-operation in the past, but it has never been ideal… bad enough that we have to deal with the road closures and access problems this brings. Do let me know please.”

Bloor said they normally passed the messages on whenever they received such requests.

“We issued the event organiser with a noise exemption certificate so any decision to reduce noise was entirely in their hands and their choice. Final power was given to the event organisers by the city and they had the right to decide as it was their event,” he said.

The organisers said at the time, however, that while they had not been aware of the letter until after the event, they would not be silenced. The event had gone ahead as planned.

President of the Cape Malay Choir Board, Shafick April said the traditional parade had been around long before the hotel.

He said they had adhered to their permit in terms of marching through the streets of Cape Town.

“We were not passing a mosque, or a holy shrine. It is just a hotel. No one else complains. The people in the guest houses and motels in the area don’t complain.”

The traditional event usually takes place on New Year’s Eve, but was moved to December 30 because it fell on a Thursday, which clashed with the beliefs of the mostly Muslim singers and musicians.

Pownall said that they always encouraged their guests to watch the Parades and share the cultural significance of this Cape Town institution.

“In-fact we share with our guests copies of a book, Coon Carnival, about the history of the Minstrels and the parades.” News24

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