The City of Cape Town has moved to silence calls to prayer from a Salt River mosque using its “noise nuisance” by-laws.
This week, the Imam of Tennyson Street Mosque in Salt River received a letter citing the by-laws and requesting “immediate” action.
Commenting on the move, Suzette Little, GOOD: City of Cape Town Councillor, said: “Two weeks ago Mayor of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, announced that although he would not honour the City’s promise to exempt mosques and churches from the City’s noise nuisance by-laws, he had instructed officials to act with sensitivity”.
Little added: “This gross insensitivity vindicates GOOD’s rejection of the mayor’s ‘soothing’ double-speak on 28 April 2022.
“We will continue to advocate that the travesty of referring to religious practice as a noise nuisance be removed from the law books altogether.”
The letter to the Imam of Tennyson Street Mosque was dated 12 May 2022.
Little said this was nearly three years after the City undertook to amend the by-law following a public outcry over a noise nuisance complaint against the 100-year-old Zeenatul Mosque in District Six.
The letter to Tennyson Street Mosque reads: “You are hereby requested as owner or occupant of this premises or the person responsible for the noise or all such persons, to mitigate the amplified sound from the mosque with immediate effect.
“This request is made in good faith and this department does seek for this complaint to be resolved amicably”.
Little said 35-year-old Mayor Hill-Lewis “must grow up, smell the roses, and develop a bit of cultural sensitivity”.
She added: “Cape Town is a multi-cultural city which implies a need for tolerance and inclusivity.
“It is not a monarchy, run by mayoral decree. There is no value in the mayor telling his minions to act with sensitivity; Council must change the by-law.
“We once again ask the mayor to strike down the by-law with immediate effect.”
Responding to the criticism, Mayor Hill-Lewis posted a note from Patricia van der Ross on Tweeter that said: “As the MayCo Member responsible, I will arrange a training session for our officials to train them on the City’s new standard operating procedure on complaints relating to places of worship. Given how new this SOP is, not all staff have yet been sensitized to its requirements. No further letters of this sort will go out. We will also contact the mosque to reassure them.”