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Wynberg community struggles with illegal squatters, City and PRASA yet to find resolution

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By Ragheema Mclean

The historic Yusufeyyah Masjied in Wynberg has been engaged in ongoing discussions with city authorities and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) since last year to tackle the persistent issue of illegal occupants near the mosque’s premises.

As the sixth oldest mosque in the country, it faces daily desecration due to informal structures erected by homeless individuals on Prasa-owned land.

Speaking on VOC’s Sunday live show, Secretary of the Yusufeyyah Masjid and Chairperson of the Wynberg East Civic Association, Yunis Karrim, expressed frustration over the lack of progress:

“Over the past year, we’ve convened four round table meetings with both Prasa and COCT to devise a way forward for the removal and relocation of the squatters adjacent to the masjid. Unfortunately, these discussions have yielded little success, as the squatters persist.”

Furthermore, Karrim said the of late the land has been infiltrated by gang members.

“Recent events have escalated tensions, turning the area into a battleground for gangs vying for territory, driven by drug-related activities. The original demographic of the land has shifted, with genuine homeless individuals now outnumbered by gang members.”

He noted efforts to address the issue have been met with challenges, as Karrim explained, “Despite escalating matters to SAPS, COCT, and Prasa, obtaining tangible results has proven difficult, particularly without eyewitness accounts.”

However, the community, united in its stance, has taken proactive steps, including a petition drive and the submission of 200 affidavits to Prasa, clearly articulating the community’s demands.

Karrim also highlighted the detrimental impact of the situation on the safety of the Jumah at the masjid.

“Fluctuating congregation numbers reflect the pervasive fear for safety among worshippers. Incidents of theft, including stolen speakers and decades-old brass handles, have added to the sense of insecurity.”

“We remain hopeful that effective plans will be implemented to address the issue and ensure the relocation of the vagrants, thereby restoring the sanctity and safety of our beloved masjid.”

Meanwhile, PRASA said in statement that it has been working with stakeholders since 2022 to address the issue of unlawful occupation of its land near Wynberg Train Station.

“The occupied land is situated near the Yusufeyyah Mosque and a taxi rank managed by the City of Cape Town. This area, referred to as ‘The Hill’, has been a focal point of our collaborative efforts. Our engagements aimed to address the escalating security incidents occurring in and around the occupied land to ensure the safety and well-being of all community members.”

PRASA added, “We are intensifying security measures and continuing to work closely with local stakeholders to prevent future encroachments and to maintain the safety of the area. Our commitment to monitoring and securing the railway reserve area remains unwavering.”

*This article has been updated. 

Photo: VOCfm

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