Skip to content

The Claremont Main Road Mosque and the Fight for Spatial Justice

Newlands and Claremont, affluent suburbs of Cape Town, have a tragic history of forced removals. One of the largest and most established communities (classified “Coloured” under Apartheid racial classification legislation) was removed from these picturesque areas under the Group Areas Act in the late 1960s. The forced removals destabilised Claremont and Newlands  and a large part of the community were relocated to the Cape Flats areas of Manenberg, Hanover Park, Mitchells Plain, Lavender Hill, Grassy Park, and even as far away as Atlantis on the West Coast – away from economic opportunities. Today, the Claremont Main Road Mosque (CMRM) remains the last vestige of a community dispersed throughout the wider city and on land far from economic opportunity. The CMRM was established in 1854 and is the sixth oldest mosque in South Africa. It was the second mosque to be built outside the Bo-Kaap. It was administered for over 100 years by the Abderoef family, descendants of Tuan Guru.  The first mosque Board in 1978 adopted the mosque’s constitution and established a system of democratic governance. The mosque played a prominent role in the anti-apartheid struggle during the 1980s. This legacy continues to define the role of CMRM as socially responsive in the post-apartheid period. The CMRM is the one of the few remaining links that the former residents of Claremont have to Claremont and Newlands after their forced removal. Many former residents and their descendants still attend religious services at the churches and mosques in Claremont.