The Sikh community here got its first full-fledged gurdwara inaugurated after an eight-year-long legal battle with their white South African neighbours who had opposed its construction.
The 2,500 square metres gurdwara 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 the God is for us all, rich and poor,” said 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.
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.”
Harbinder Singh Sethi, chairman of the Johanensburg gurdwara, said the opening was blessed because it coincided with the birthday of Jacob Zuma .
“We now have a gurdwara here which is built with Sikh architecture but in a very modern way,” Sethi said as he explained that it had taken six years to complete the structure because of 151 objections from mainly white residents in the area.