There was finally good news for musallees of the Owal mosque in Atlantis who finally won a lengthy battle to buy adjoining Council land where they could build a much needed madressa and venue for community gatherings and educational workshops. According to Ganief Hendricks, leader of the Al Jama-ah party, this battle was won with the help of both his party and the Pan African Congress (PAC).
“Successive administrations of the City ignored the application, marginalising the Muslim community. At the last council meeting the ward councillor delayed approval and the PAC asked the Speaker Alderman Dirk Smith to consider disciplinary action if the objection was frivolous. The ward councillor had sufficient notice of the fast tracking of the application by the City manager, Achmat Ebrahim,” Hendricks said.
The mosque applied for the land in 1997 and was subjected to a constant delays. Addressing a full council at its August 2013 session, Hendricks said these delays were unacceptable. He explained to fellow councillors how the madressa would benefit the entire community by providing a much needed venue for public gatherings where, amongst others workshops could be held to empower the community.
“The DA then changed its position and the leader of the opposition, Tony Ehrenreich, waived his speaking time in favour of Al Jama-ah and the PAC. The Council then unanimously approved the application,” Hendricks reported, adding his congratulations to the Atlantis Islamic Society for making the application. He also thanked the city manager “for using his delegated powers to fastrack the application” and thanked the PAC for its support to get “more land to the people”.
“Atlantis has an abundance of land,” said Hendricks, whose party had contested by-elections in Atlantis to raise awareness on the rights of Muslims in Atlantis. Hendricks is also n ex officio councillor on one of the ward committees situated in the sub council in which Atlantis falls. The land in question is in Gothenburg Street, Wesfleur, Atlantis and measures 6,668 square meters. It was discounted by the City to R63,840, but the selling price was subjected to an annual escalation of 5%. The property will now be consolidated with the existing mosque. VOC