First Gurudwara Opens Near Johannesburg after 8 Years of Legal Battle

JOHANNESBURG:  The Sikh community today got its first Gurudwara after an eight-year-long legal battle near Johannesburg.

The 2,500 square metres Gurudwara was officially opened in the suburb of Sandton, the economic hub of the country, by the country’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Mashabane-Nkoane.

 “Sandton is supposed to be the citadel of where those who have money live and the opening of the Gurudwara here is making the statement that indeed God is for us all, rich and poor,” said Ms Maite Mashabane-Nkoane.

“Every humble human being can now walk in and pray at any time, irrespective of colour or creed,” the minister said as she conveyed congratulations on behalf of President Jacob Zuma and all South Africans to the Sikh community.

Ms Mashabane-Nkoane, a former High Commissioner to India, said she had been privileged to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and was amazed at the Sikh community’s principles of caring for humanity.

“Every time I interact with the people of the Sikh community, I remember our own (African) values of ‘Ubuntu’, which means ‘I am because you are’; we are all creatures of God.”

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Harbinder Singh Sethi, Chairman of the Johanensburg Gurudwara, said the, “We now have a Gurudwara Sahib here which is built with Sikh architecture but in a very modern way.”

“It was difficult to build even one square centimetre in this corner of Sandton and now we have a jewel of 2,500 square metres here,” Mr Sethi said.

Vikram Singh Sahney, President of the World Punjabi Organisation asked the local municipality to consider renaming the street where the Gurudwara is situated to ‘Khalsa Street’.

Indian High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam said that the Sikh community, wherever they were in the world helped drive the economy through their hard work and also assisted greatly in community upliftment ventures, in line with their religious principles.

The large Sikh community in South Africa consists wholly of migrants who came here after the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, as immigration from India was stopped by the apartheid government in 1948.

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