Seven kramats in ‘Circle of Tombs’ declared National Heritage Sites

The kramat of Shaykh Sayed Abdul Aziz near Muizenberg beach. Picture: Shaykh Sayed Ridhwaan | South African Mazaars Media and Research Centre

The kramat of Shaykh Sayed Abdul Aziz near Muizenberg beach. Picture: Shaykh Sayed Ridhwaan | South African Mazaars Media and Research Centre

Published Apr 18, 2024


Cape Town - Seven kramats or mazaars, the shrines of esteemed and holy Muslim figures, have recently been declared National Heritage Sites.

The sanctified gravesites form part of phase two of a serial nomination to the SA Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) initiated by the Cape Mazaar Society and Vidamemoria Heritage Consultants, and comprises over 20 kramats described as the “Circle of Tombs”.

The “Circle of Tombs” consists of over 20 kramats around the Cape Peninsula and are gravesites of the “Auliya” (Friends of Allah), who were foregrounded in their faith as they resisted oppression, slavery and colonial rule, and contributed to the spread and preservation of Islam in the Cape and beyond.

The kramats of Sayed Abdul Aziz (Muizenberg), Sayed Jaffer (Bakoven), Sheikh Ali Sayed Bassier (Camps Bay), Sayed Abdul Malik (Vredehoek), Sayed Abdul Haq (Deer Park), Hazrat Sayed Mehboob Ali Shah (Maitland Cemetery), and Sheikh Abdul Kader (De Waal Drive), are now protected under the National Heritage Resources Act following the declaration.

Cape Mazaar Society chairperson Mahmood Limbada said there were potentially four more kramats in the third phase, at the Habibia Soofie Complex, Caledon Municipality, Bains Kloof, and Worcester.

“Incidentally, the Cape Mazaar Society tried many times, beginning in the eighties, to have these Kramats recognised as monuments by the then colonialist South African Monuments Council.

“After years of trying, unsuccessfully, we realised that the ‘masters’ will never be willing to honour the ‘slaves’ as National Heroes.

“Nevertheless, following the examples of these pious predecessors, we persevered and were eventually granted a sympathetic ear by our new democratic government. Hence, our great success in the decades-long quest,” Limbada said.

Vidamemoria Heritage Consultants director and urbanist, Quahnita Samie, said: “The declaration of the Circle of Tombs is testimony to the role and significance of Islam at the Cape and to our nation. Heritage is not just the celebration of events that took place in the past – but also our actions shaping our future.

“This declaration is in honour of the men and women who brought the beautiful religion of Islam to our shores, who fought against injustice and left their legacy to guide us.”

SAHRA senior manager: Heritage Conservation Management, Ben Mwasinga, said SAHRA hoped to conclude the serial declaration by 2025.

“In total, there are 27 kramats which we have identified as possessing qualities that are so unique and significant to meet National Heritage status. These sites are critical to telling the story of the development of Islam in South Africa but furthermore, they also speak to the story of resistance, slavery and liberation as the Auliya buried there are essentially individuals who brought Islam to the Cape.”

Mwasinga said these sites were not just significant locally, but played a role as sites of pilgrimage for those from southeast Asia and elsewhere.

[email protected]