Mandla Mandela calls for arrest of suspects who desecrated Muslim graves

Mandla Mandela. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)
Mandla Mandela. (Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24)

Mandla Mandela has called for the arrest of those who destroyed 80 Muslim tombstones and graves in the Mowbray Muslim cemetery in Cape Town.

He also condemned its desecration in the strongest terms.

"The violation of this sacred space is an evil act; it is an offence against religious sensibility, and defiles the values of peace, respect and dignity afforded to all citizens by our Constitution.

"This heinous act involving the destruction of some 80 tombstones and graves inflicts trauma on the families of the deceased whose resting places have been so grossly violated.

"We appeal for calm and implore the Muslim community to allow the law to take its course as such wanton acts of criminality must be dealt with by the full might of the law so that the perpetrators may be brought to book," Mandela said.

On Wednesday, cemetery staff told News24 they were trying to get to the bottom of what happened and could not comment. 

Western Cape police spokesperson Colonel Andrè Traut confirmed that Woodstock police were investigating a case of malicious damage to property.

Mandela said the law should take its course.

"We appeal to the law enforcement authorities to leave no stone unturned in dealing with this matter."

Mandela converted to Islam when he married his fourth wife, Rabia, in February 2016. 

Meanwhile, the ANC also condemned the incident.

Spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party viewed the desecration as not only barbaric, but as an act of provocation against the Muslim community.

"We share the deep pain felt by families whose departed loved ones have been violated in such a raw and heartless manner. We commend affected families and the Muslim community for exercising restraint in the face of this naked provocation.

"All normal human beings everywhere in the world respect the dead and allow them to rest in peace. The graves are sacred places. Violating the dignity of the departed is unacceptable and unjustifiable.

"Vandalising cemeteries is the worst form of barbarism and demonstrates the lowest level to which these faceless people have descended," Mabe said.

The ANC urged law enforcement agencies to leave no stone unturned in its efforts to find the perpetrators.

The head of the Muslim Judicial Council's cemetery management committee, Shaykh Riad Fataar, told the Voice of the Cape radio station that it would get to the bottom of what happened.

He added it was a difficult time for those who have buried their loved ones there and urged people not to share photos or videos showing the names on the gravestones.

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