Pretoria: A long-standing dispute between
a Muslim and Hindu neighbour over the latter's alleged use of
his home as a temple is to go to court where lawyers will test
the Constitutional prescriptions on religious freedom in South
Aneesa Carrim of the residential suburb of Claudius,
some 15 km from the city centre of Pretoria, asked the Tshwane
municipality, which controls the area, to investigate her
claims that her neighbour Subramaniakurukkal Jegatheeswaran
had converted his garage and front garden into a temple.
"He has a sound system in the garage from where he
plays/recites his prayers, and he often makes the sound high
so that the worshippers under the shed nets (erected in his
garden) can hear (it). It is so loud that we can hear it in
our home," Carrim said in her letter to the municipality.
"He has put up signs on the wall (of his house)
advertising that he is a priest and an astrologist," she said.
Carrim claimed that religious functions for up to
250 people were hosted on the premises and a fire was kept
continuously burning in the garage or on the lawn.
Carrim said she did not have anything against her
neighbour's religious beliefs, but that he needed to apply to
rezone the premises for use other than residential.
While Carrim claimed that the noise from the prayers
in the residential area infringed on the right to privacy and
quite living, Jegatheeswaran's attorney Kineil Muthray told
the weekly Extra that she was "a very difficult woman".
"She is doing everything she can to make
Jegatheeswaran's life a misery. She complains about
everything, even if he has a visitor at home, she complains
that he was a worshipper," he said.
"Police go to his home, even when there is nothing
happening," he added.
Muthray said the home was not a temple, but that his
client was "just an enlightened Hindu whom people go to for
"The municipality has charged (my client) for
contravening the bylaws by running (his home) as a temple
site. We are going to challenge it on the basis that they are
going to stop him from practising his religion," Muthray said.
He said if the municipality found Jegatheeswaran
guilty of contravening a bylaw, it would affect all Hindus.
"They will be telling every Hindu he cannot practise
his religion in his own confines because it's a disturbance to
anybody else. Hindus are not loud. When Muslims have the Azaan
(call to prayer) at 4 a m (over loudspeakers), nobody
complains because it is religious intolerance".
First Published: Sunday, September 05, 2010, 20:48