Thornton Muslims vs The City that works for you

The Thornton Islamic Society (TIS) has been leasing the property (Erf 1102) from the City for almost 13 years. This lease has been run on a month to month basis since about 2007 and throughout this period, TIS has been trying to either purchase the land or have the city commit to a long term lease. TIS were recently advised by the City, that the land was zoned for Sports and Recreation purposes and we were subsequently advised that we are in contradiction of our Lease Agreement.  Clause 2.2 of the Rental Agreement states: The Rental shall be subject to any increases in terms of the tariff of rentals for land leased for ­SPORTING OR COMMUNITY PURPOSES as determined from time to time by the Lessors Executive Committee TIS uses the facility to:
  • Offer Madrassah classes to children from the community
  • Offers a place where Muslims living and working in the area can participate in any of the 5 required daily prayers
  • Offers the Facility to Muslims Living and Working in the area a facility to conduct Friday Prayers
  • Offers a Facility to conduct marriage ceremonies for Muslims living in the area
  • Offers a Facility from where Burial Ceremonies can be conducted.
  • Facilitates a weekly fund raising event to finance community Based Projects. In the last year we arranged for:
    • 5x Food Parcels to Riverside Village
    • Radio Donation to Thornton Patrols
    • Collaboration with the Cubs from 3rd Pinelands Scouts by making soup for the Kensington Night Shelter during this year’s Icy Winter
TIS has responded to the City on several occasions asking that we either be granted a Long Term Lease (currently on a month to Month Lease) or for the option to purchase the ERF. Once we have received a long term contract of acquire the land, it is our intention to build a Multi Function Community Centre that will benefit all residents of Thornton. To date, we have had no feedback from the City regarding this matter. However, during April of 2013, a Sub Council Meeting was held to discuss our plight and TIS was not informed of this meeting despite written requests for date and time confirmation from both TIS and Councillor Anwar Adams. Further to this, the ex Thornton bowling Club (Thornton Sports Union) who previously were tenants at the adjacent ERF, ran up a water bill with the City that now sits at about R420 000 in arrears. The Water Supply to the Bowling Club is the main supply and TIS do not have a metre to our Erf. Only once the Thornton Bowling Club disbanded and moved out of the property, did the City start cutting the Water Supply due to Non payment. This resulted in TIS being without a Water Supply on several occasions. Thanks to Councillor Anwar Adams, TIS was spared many embarrassing moments  for not being able to supply the congregation with the necessary water to perform our cleansing ritual before Friday prayers.  TIS would also like to take this opportunity to thank Councillor Anwar Adams for his vigilance and assisting us to get the water supply turned on again. The water supply was cut on Wed 2nd October 2013 and a letter addressed to the Thornton Sports Union was left in the foyer of the Thornton Islamic Society stating that the water was disconnected due to an arrears amount of R 432 270.18. Councillor Adams again was vigilant in assisting with turning the water supply back on. The water was again turned off on 7 November 2013 and this time the accompanying letter stated the water account to the Thornton Sports Union is in arrears by R 35 186.74. The very first letter received about the outstanding arrears was approximately R380 000. Wondering if the account was really paid.

Chapter Two of the South African Constitution States:

31. Cultural, religious and linguistic communities
  1. Persons belonging to a cultural, religious or linguistic community may not be denied the right, with other members of that community ­
    1. to enjoy their culture, practise their religion and use their language; and
    2. to form, join and maintain cultural, religious and linguistic associations and other organs of civil society.
  2. The rights in subsection (1) may not be exercised in a manner inconsistent with any provision of the Bill of Rights.
Thornton has 5 churches servicing the religious needs of the Christians in the area. Furthermore, one of the homes in the area also offers a Church Service on Sundays. The Scouts hall in Thornton also doubles up as a Church on Sundays. Thornton’s residents number around 4000 of which 600 is Muslims and our 1 place of worship is not a permanent institute living on the grace of a month to month lease. The Thornton Islamic Society would like to pose the following questions to the City of Cape Town:
  1. Is offering the Muslims of Thornton a place to practice their religion not a COMMUNITY PURPOSE as outlined in point 2.2 out the original rental agreement? Why after a decade is the zoning issue now being raised?
  2. Why are we as TIS not receiving any correspondence or feedback regarding our Requests for:
    • Our Own Water Supply
    • Long Term Lease / Purchase of property
    • Proposal to establish a Community Centre benefiting the WHOLE of Thornton
    • Being excluded from Sub Council Meetings regarding the Thornton Islamic Society
  3. How does the City allow for a Water Account to reach R400 000 before any action is taken. Does this mean that we can let our home accounts run up to R400 000 before any action is taken?
  4. If the Erf where TIS is situated on is Zoned for Sports and Recreation, and TIS’s actions are deemed contrary to the zoning:
    1. Why was the Lease granted in the first place and why did it take almost a decade before the City Had a problem with our activities
    2. The land where the Scouts Hall is situated on is Zoned for Sports and recreation. Does this change on a Sunday when Church Services are hosted there?
TIS is asking you the reader to put yourself in ourshoes and consider the following:
  • 5 Churches in the Community and we are being prevented from setting up an Established place of worship
  • There appears to be double standards when it comes to the Zoning Laws
  • It appears that the Thornton Bowling Club was allowed to operate for years without paying their utility bill and only after they have vacated the premises is action being taken. This action results in the Islamic Society being without water services
  • Why not Provide us with our own water supply
  • Why exclude us from a Sub Council meeting that will directly impact us and when someone tries to speak on our behalf, he is prevented from doing so
  • Why not allow TIS to Build a Multi-Cultural Community Centre as they have requested?
Surely you too will feel as though this City, This City that Works for You is discriminating against the Muslims of Thornton.  

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