Deadly rage over ban on beard

2011-05-28 00:00

A DISPUTE that started over whether or not a Shembe security guard was allowed to wear a beard exploded in gunfire yesterday, ending in the death from three bullets of the guard’s manager.

The killing occurred in the Protea Coin Group offices in Moosa Allee building in Hoosen Haffejee Street in Pietermaritzburg yesterday morning.

According to accounts of the incident, Bonginkosi Nene, a member of the Ebuhleni Shembe International church, had been found guilty on four disciplinary counts related to his refusal to shave his beard and cut his hair.

The charges included a failure to comply with company rules, revealing confidential information of the company by talking to the media, bringing the company’s name into disrepute and gross insubordination.

Nene was featured in the Mirror community paper recently when he complained about his employer who wanted to fire him for refusing to shave his beard and hair. Shaving is against the tenets of the Shembe church.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said Nene was called into the office of regional manager Danie van der Spuy yesterday to finalise his dismissal.

“An argument started between the deceased and the accused regarding the disciplinary hearing, after he was found guilty of four charges which were dismissible offences,” said Jeevan.

She said Nene then drew a 9 mm pistol and pointed it at Van der Spuy. One of his colleagues intervened and calmed him down and ordered him to leave the office, which he did.

“Shortly after that he then fired three shots, fatally wounding van der Spuy,” said Jeevan.

She said one of the employees alerted the police, who responded quickly and got to the scene before Nene could flee the building.

He was caught with the murder weapon in his possession and was arrested.

He was charged with murder and will appear in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

Evangelist Linda Cibani, spokesperson for the Ebuhleni Shembe International church, said it is against the church’s teachings to kill and this is the first time an incident like this had happened.

“Shaving is forbidden in our church, but if a member is working for a company that does not allow people to keep their hair or beard, we normally advise the person to comply with the rules and regulations of the company,” said Cibani.

He said if the person has been unfairly dismissed because of his or her religious beliefs, it is always advisable to take legal action against the employer to avoid taking the law into his or her hands.

Cibani said their member was clearly ruled by anger when he committed this crime. “We will pray to God for the bereaved family and we hope the member will repent by showing signs that he is acknowledging that he has done something that is against the church’s laws,” he said.

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