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Thursday Apr 06, 2017

Property owners lose fight against Knysna mosque

The Knysna Muslim Council claimed victory after the Western Cape High Court dismissed an application brought by a group of disgruntled residents who wanted approval for the construction of a mosque declared invalid.

The 22 residents, who live in Rawson Street, will now have to pay the legal costs of the municipality.

Municipal manager Johnny Douglas hailed the achievment, saying: "This is a win not only for the council but for religious freedom and democracy for our country. The court ruling once again shows that this council upholds the constitution and the respective rules and laws governing local government."

The residents had been at loggerheads with the municipality after officials approved the construction of the mosque, citing various reasons, from access and parking in Rawson Street being limited to the municipality transgressing its own by-laws.

The applicants had charged that they were not consulted before the application was approved. But the Knysna Muslim Council said it had followed all procedures and despite compiling a detailed plan which addressed residents' grievances including noise, traffic and parking, there were still objections.

Chairperson Omar Essa said the council was ready to proceed with construction, subject to an appeal by the residents.

Essa said: "We are absolutely ecstatic. There are no words to explain. It has been a nine-year struggle and finally we have come to a point where we can possibly proceed with the building of the project."

He said the process was started in 2008 when the council applied to the municipality for land to establish the building, but only received a response two years later.

"We cannot rule that (the appeal) out. But the the court has dismissed the application from the objectors to set aside and review the municipality's decision," said Essa.

The residents' attorney, Franci Joubert, said they noted the ruling and would study it before considering a way forward.

Cape Times


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