Fourteen tenants who reside at the Durban’s Grey Street Mosque building in the central business district have escaped unharmed after a fire broke out. The fire which broke out in one of the residential flats did not affect the 139-year-old mosque itself. The Durban mosque is a famed landmark place of worship which can accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers. The blaze at the Grey Street Mosque was finally under control after about two hours. Emergency services spokesman Robert Mckenzie has sad the blaze also damaged three adjacent buildings.
Speaking to TimesLIVE, trustee Mr AV Mohammed stated, “In view of the government restrictions of 50 people, we were going to officially open the mosque yesterday [Monday], but the area that people use to enter the mosque from the street is now an issue after the fire that took place, and the place is not considered safe enough for the public to be moving about in,” he said on Tuesday.
“We will not reopen in view of the safety hazard. The mosque will remain closed indefinitely until the safety of worshippers and shop owners have been sorted out.”
Onlookers at the blaze site took to posting videos on social media platform Twitter, to show crowds gathering as curtains of flames ripped through the top floor of the two-storey building in the central business district. The extent of the damage at the building is yet to be established.
Speaking to AFP news agency, chairman of the South African Muslim Network, Faisal Suliman, said it was believed the fire broke out in one of seven residential units located above the mosque and may have started by an electrical fault.
Speaking to Newsbreak Lotus, Mr AV Mohammed explains what transpired and discusses the impact it has had on the Durban Muslim community.
Listen to the SABC Newsbreak podcast here,
The mosque has played host to various world figure including South Africa’s first democratically-elected president Nelson Mandela, British singer Cat Stevens is now known as Yusuf Islam, and boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
The Durban Grey Street mosque is a famed landmark place of worship which can accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers.
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