Calls To Prayer Can Not Be Considered As ‘Noise Disturbance’, Says GOOD

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Calls to prayer for Muslims to enter a mosque are still considered as “noise disturbance” by the City of Cape Town – something Aunty Pat’s GOOD party wants to change.

“Three years after the City of Cape Town promised to amend its noise by-laws to exclude the Muslim call to prayer from the definition of ‘noise disturbance’ the amendment hasn’t been made,” complained Suzette Little, a GOOD councillor.

The City’s website includes “Church singing/bells” and “Calls to Mosque” as examples of “noise disturbance” – alongside nightclubs and industrial noise.

There are nine mosques in the Bo-Kaap, the picturesque area formerly known as Malay Quarter on Signal Hill.

Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap

Muslims make up about 3% of South Africa’s population of nearly 60 million, with most of them living in Cape Town.

“In an effort to force the City to fulfill its promise, the GOOD Party has submitted a formal proposal to amend the By-Law relating to Street, Public Places, and the Prevention of Noise Nuisance,” said Little in a statement she released on Sunday.

She said the matter has been outstanding since May 2019, when, in the middle of the holy month of Ramadaan, a noise disturbance complaint was lodged against the 100-year-old Zeenatul Mosque in District Six for the call to prayer, the Athaan.

“The City’s leadership publicly promised to provide for an exemption from noise control regulations for the Athaan and church bells,” said Little.

“To date this has not happened, and there has been no indication that the amendment is under consideration.”

GOOD has therefore proposed that the amended Section 3 of the by-law reads as follows:

3. No person shall in a public place —

(a) cause or permit to be caused a disturbance by shouting, screaming, or making any other loud or persistent noise or sound, including amplified noise or sound; or

(b) Permit noise from a private residence or business to be audible in a public place, except for the purposes of loudspeaker announcements for public meetings or due to the actions of street entertainers.

(c) Places of worship, such as churches and mosques, operating lawfully in terms of the Cape Town Planning By-Law and its Zoning Scheme, shall be exempted from the provisions of the Western Cape Noise Control Regulations and from the provisions of this by-law, for the purposes of religious sounds of calls to prayer, ringing of bells and singing.

“In the absence of City leadership on these matters, GOOD further undertakes to submit a separate motion dealing with those parts of the by-law which victimise homeless people,” said Little.

“GOOD will propose a motion providing for a more holistic solution to address reasons why people migrate to the street, and begin to develop a dignified and humane reintegration process.

“The homeless spoke for themselves in 2016, but their words fell on deaf ears.

“We look forward to sharing not only the amended by-law but our solution to an enduringly difficult human problem in Cape Town and many other cities around the world.”