Fight over Hindu temple reaches court in S Africa
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Last Updated: Sunday, September 05, 2010, 20:48
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 Africa.

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 spiritual guidance".

"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

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