Call for heritage status for mosque, grave

The Al Jaamiah Masjid in Stegman Road, Claremont has been nominated by the Imam Haron Foundation to be a provincial heritage site.

Anti-apartheid cleric Abdullah Haron’s grave in Mowbray and mosque in Claremont where he served as imam have been nominated for provincial heritage status.

The Imam Haron Foundation met at Livingstone High School on Saturday July 6 to discuss having the Al Jaamiah Masjid and Imam Haron’s grave declared provincial heritage sites.

Also at the meeting were Imam Haron’s family and former Claremont residents, who had been forced out of the area under the apartheid era Group Areas Act.

Imam Haron died on September 27 1969 after spending 123 days in solitary confinement. He was tortured and then murdered by the Security Branch.

This year is the 50th anniversary of his death.

Cassiem Khan, the foundation’s co-ordinator said the Stegman Road mosque, as an “open space” for the expression of political views, had attracted the attention of the apartheid authorities.

“Imam Haron did his work for the mosque against the apartheid system, making it worthy of heritage status,” he said.

Imam Haron was posthumously awarded the Order of Luthuli – Gold, in 2014, for service to his country.

Mr Khan said Heritage Western Cape (HWC) had nominated Imam Haron’s grave in Mowbray for heritage status.

Fatima Haron, the youngest daughter of Imam Haron, said her father had “played a pivotal role in the mosque, in changing people’s minds and transcending the barriers across the religious divide at that particular time”.

She said nominating her father’s grave as a heritage site would bring closure to the family, recognise the work he had done and preserve his legacy.

“The youth need to remember him,” she said.

Moulana Khalique Allie, first deputy president of the Muslim Judicial Council, said the sacrifices and struggles of those who had died for freedom “must never be forgotten”.

Three sisters at the meeting, Se-
dickah, Zubeida and Mourieda Gameeldien recalled their earlier days in Claremont.

Sedickah told how she had moved out of the area with her family in the early 1960s. She and her sisters attended Muslim school at Al Jaamiah Masjid, and their father, Achmat Gameeldien, had been a member of the mosque when Imam Haron was in
charge.

Quahnita Samie, owner of a heritage company that consults with HWC, said the nominations were now subject to a public-participation process.

“Once it closes, we submit further information to the authorities which enables them to make a decision whether these sites should be declared,” she said.

Public comments can be submitted to IHF50@vidamemoria.co.za before the end of July. Contact Cassiem Khan at 076 640 7928 or cassiem.khan@gmail.com for more information from the Imam Haron Foundation about the two nominated heritage sites.