Covid-19: Mosques closed in Strand, but other places of worship remain open as third wave approaches

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A Muslim woman prays during the coronavirus pandemic.
A Muslim woman prays during the coronavirus pandemic.
Majid Saeedi, Getty Images
  • Six mosques in Strand have been closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
  • The move reportedly follows the death of a well-known imam.
  • Other religious groups have said there would be no closures, for now.

Six mosques in Strand have been closed with immediate effect to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

But other places of worship remain open, with religious and community organisations monitoring the situation closely amid fears of a third wave of Covid-19 infections.

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The Strand Moslem Council executive announced that all six Masajid (Ummah, Nurl Anwar, Broadbands Park, Badr Zaavia and Jaamia) would enter a "complete lockdown" until further notice, "due to positive Covid-19 cases".

"We encourage all Musalees, who have attended our Masajid in the last week, to self-isolate and take necessary precautions," the council said in a statement.

Strand Moslem Council secretary Sadick Fanie said the decision was taken after Moulana Ghosain Rhoda, imam of Strand for the last 45 years, was hospitalised with Covid-19-related complications. He died on Monday morning.

Fanie said that several families in the community had reported Covid-19, and many of these infections had been traced back to workplaces or schools.

Only two of the six Masajid were offering Jumuah to between 250 and 300 worshippers before the closure, said Fanie.

Third wave

With the fears of the third wave, most religions and places of worship are still continuing to practice their faiths.

The South African Council of Churches has not yet taken a stand on whether places of worship should be encouraged to close, said SACC general secretary Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana.

"The SACC, which is an association, not of single congregations, but of national denominations, has not yet arrived at a decision to encourage denominations to close their congregations. However, the SACC is hosting an interfaith meeting this week, for various faith traditions to discuss what we all can and should do to stem the increase of infection numbers, as well as discuss our role in supporting the vaccination rollout," he said.

Mpumlwana said individual congregations could take a decision to shut their doors. 

"There may well be many doing that across the country, depending on their circumstances. We are not aware of whole denominations making that decision," he said.

Wendy Kahn, national director for the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, said the organisation was not aware of any synagogues closing.

"The Jewish community has put extremely strict protocols in place at the synagogues and on the whole these measures have resulted in few if any issues. We are greatly concerned with the rise in infections in our country, including in our synagogues and this is something that is being monitored and assessed on an ongoing basis with the guidance of medical experts. Some synagogues have already tightened up their Covid measures," she said.

"In terms of closing synagogues, that would be a decision that would be made in consultation with religious and community leaders and medical experts as has been done in the past."

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