The South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) on Friday condemned the planned auctioning of two pieces of land which were the scene of the first anti-colonial uprising. The civic organisation urged the South African Heritage Agency (SAHRA) to intervene in the matter involving the Bo-Kaap Trust and Claremart, the agency selling the land.
“The sale of the site at the Tana Baru cemetery will undermine the historical and significance of the Muslim heritage which can only be preserved through the declaration of the site as a national inheritance, ” maintained SANCO National Spokesperson, Jabu Mahlangu expressing support for Bo-Kaap Trust’s objection.
Mahlangu appealed to the SAHRA to interdict Claremart not to proceed with the auction pending consideration of the application lodged by the Trust for the site regarded as the first officially recognised Muslim cemetery in South Africa to be declared a national heritage site.
“The failure of the Democratic Alliance(DA) administration in the City of Cape Town Metro to find an amicable solution to the untenable dispute and address spatial planning development challenges facing our communities and religious sectors is appalling and points to a government that is insensitive and detached from its constituencies,” he said.
The Tana Baru Trust spokesperson, Mohammad Groenewald, alleges that Claremart had announced that two erven would be auctioned at the end of the month at a reserve price of R20 million.
The two erven in question, which Groenewald said constitutes 20% of the cemetery, are at the top of Longmarket Street in the Bo-Kaap.
According to the South Africa History Online(SAHO), many of the pioneers of Islam in the Western Cape such as Tuan Guru, Abu Bakr Effendi and others are buried at the cemetery.
SAHO records that on January 17, 1886, the Muslim community revolted against the closure by the colonial authorities of the Tana Baru cemetery by burying a child at the cemetery.
\About 3 000 Muslims followed the funeral procession in defiance of the colonisers, with the police keeping a close watch on the procession. After the burial 12 policemen attempted to take perceived offenders’ names, but were pelted with stones, forcing them to abandon the area.
It also records that in an attempt to preserve the heritage of the Tana Baru uprising and its sacred burial space, a Committee for the Preservation of the Tana Baru was formed in the early 1980s and in 1998 the Tana Baru Trust was formed.
The uprising has continued to form an important part of the heritage of Cape Town’s Muslim community.
African news agency