Claremont’s old Muslim cemetery could reopen

The dormant Stegman Road cemetery in Claremont is on land belonging to Al-Jaamia mosque.

An old Claremont cemetery could reopen to ease the pressure Covid-19 is placing on space for Muslim burials in the city.

The Stegman Road cemetery is next to the Al-Jaamia mosque. Nazeem Jamie, who is part of the Moslem Community – Claremont Trust (MC-CT) that represents the mosque, says they are waiting for written approval from the City.

The cemetery is on the mosque’s property but it would be run as a separate entity through the trust, he said.

Last week, the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) said it had been given approval to reopen the burial ground, but the City says this is not the case.

Dr Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, said that while the City had discussed the issue with the MJC, the Stegman Road cemetery was not City-owned and “the MJC and their trustees will need to follow the due process as determined for final approvals for the use of Stegman Road cemetery, if it is deemed viable”.

The last funeral was held at the 2500m² cemetery in 1911, according to Mr Jamie. There was no historical record, he said, of why it was no longer in use.

The trust was looking at the layout of proposed gravesites, a borehole system and the installation of water tanks.

The Tatler was unable to get clarity from the MJC about its earlier comments despite several attempts to do so.

Earlier this month, Dr Badroodien said the City worked with the MJC to accommodate some 150 Muslim burials at City cemeteries a month and that the City had created a new Muslim burial block for 837 graves at the Maitland cemetery.

“This in addition to the burial blocks created for all denominations last year, as part of the City’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dr Badroodien.

While the Klip Road cemetery had run out of space for Muslim burials, there was still space at the Muizenberg, Dido Valley, Ocean View, Maitland, Atlantis, Delft, Wallacedene, Welmoed, Khayelitsha, and Kleinvlei cemeteries, he said.

Fazloodien Abrahams, the secretary of the Moslem Cemetery Board, which represents Mowbray Muslim cemetery, said an average of 62 burials were held there a month.

“We are managing well with sufficient burial space for now though one can, however, not guarantee what we might be facing in the future,” he said.

“To avoid infection transfers, they only allow one janaazah to proceed in the cemetery at a time,” he said.

Email Cemetery.Administration@capetown.gov.za for more queries relating to City cemeteries.between 7.30am and 4pm on weekdays.