Improvements at Muslim cemetery in Rylands

The Vygieskraal Muslim Cemetery in Johnstone Road, Rylands

Vygieskraal Muslim Cemetery’s facility for the ritual washing of the dead has been revamped.

With no running water in the room, or ghusl ghaana, families of a deceased had previously fetched buckets of water to perform the ritual, which frequently left a mess on the floor.

Now the room has its own hand shower to wash the body on a steel mortuary table, with proper drainage, so there is no longer a need for buckets.

The mortuary table where the dead are washed has its own drain

The Vygieskraal Cemetery Board opened the new facility to the public last month. The bathrooms were also revamped, said the chairman, Abdullah Salie.

The ritual washing, or ghusl, is performed to ensure the body is in a pure state before burial. It is performed in a clean area with clean water by a ghaasil (a male) for male deceased or a ghaasila (a female) for female deceased, although they are more commonly called a toekamundie.

Mr Salie said there was now also extra security at the cemetery along with cameras to prevent theft, vandalism and vagrancy.

“We will also be planting some trees and plants to give the cemetery a facelift and we are trying to get approval from the City of Cape Town to use the land next to the cemetery to bury more bodies. For that, we’ve hired private consultants who are assessing the underground water of the land before they take their assessment to the City.”

Toekamundie Imaam Mogamad Yusuf Pandy welcomed the improvements at the ghusl ghaana.

“This has really eased difficulty in the community especially in the pandemic with so many deaths and so few ghusl ghaanas. We hope that things will only improve from here.”

Haroun Peters, a toekamundie and undertaker from Heideveld, said: “The layout is perfect, and it is the first ghusl room to have air-conditioning, which we really appreciate.”