Msunduzi Municipality sits on mosque

2016-02-11 10:45
Chase Valley councillor Dave Ryder stands at the empty site on Francis Staniland Road where an application was brought by the Muslim community to build a mosque and madrassah. Ryder is calling for the municipality to process the application, which has been awaiting approval for almost two years now.

Chase Valley councillor Dave Ryder stands at the empty site on Francis Staniland Road where an application was brought by the Muslim community to build a mosque and madrassah. Ryder is calling for the municipality to process the application, which has been awaiting approval for almost two years now. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - An application to purchase land and build a mosque and madrassah in ­Montrose remains in the hands of the municipality almost two years on.

The application to purchase the municipal land was made by the Cascades Foundation Mussallah and Madrassah to build on a vacant site on Francis Staniland Road.

Moulana Ismail Vawda said the foundation saw the need for a mosque in the area as there were more than 150 Muslim families living in Montrose.

“Our current place of worship in ­Linscott Road has become too small to cater for all the families, hence our decision to build a bigger and better facility,” said Vawda.

He said their Linscott Road facility does not have enough parking space and the new facility will have gated parking areas, a spiritual facility for children and a mosque.

“We want to create good individuals in our society and with the influx of Muslim families into the area, this site for a mosque and madrassah is convenient and bigger,” said Vawda.

He said that their application was made to the Msunduzi Municipality in 2014 and the foundation is still waiting for the go-ahead.

DA ward councillor David Ryder said when the application was brought to the municipality, there was a “late objection” by the municipality’s roads department which seems to be delaying the process.

“Initially there was no objection from all the departments, but later it was found that the specific piece of land was zoned under road reserve,” said Ryder. He added that there had been no new developments in the purchasing of the land and residents and interested parties are waiting on that decision.

He put to bed any gossip that residents were against a mosque being built in the area, saying any building would have a reaction from the community.

“The reaction has very little to do with the fact that it is a mosque. Generally residents raise concerns when any structure is erected, such as an increase in traffic and the comings and goings of people who may result in a safety issue for the area,” Ryder said.

He said he would not be “taking sides” in the proposal to build a mosque, but rather ask for the municipality to “follow the correct processes” and in a timeous manner.

“The processes itself would determine the outcome,” he said.

Msunduzi Municipality acting spokesperson Nqobile Madonda said the reason for the delay in selling the property relates to the fact the land is not currently zoned as a place of worship.

“Upon investigation, it was discovered that the land is zoned as a road reserve. The municipality needed to conduct a specialist investigation … and it was found to be possible to rezone the land,” she said.

Madonda said the municipality will now have to realise the “full socio-economic value” of the land that will favour general public interest and social cohesion.

Once all the requirements were met, the municipality would finalise the sale, she said.

“It has taken some time to finalise this application because we have had to gain a detailed understanding of the proposal that has been received, and we have had positive interactions with the applicant,” Madonda said.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg

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