Bushiri’s application to hold church event was 'fully compliant' with by-laws – CRL rights commission

2019-02-01 14:01
Prophet Bushiri along with church representatives before the CRL Rights Commission. (Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)

Prophet Bushiri along with church representatives before the CRL Rights Commission. (Sesona Ngqakamba, News24)

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Self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri's application to hold a Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church event on December 28, 2018, that resulted in several fatalities, was fully compliant with by-laws, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) has found.

"The application by Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church for the evening of December 28, 2018 was fully compliant with the by-laws and the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act 2 of 2010 (SSRE Act)," commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said in a statement on Friday.

A storm hit the City of Tshwane that night, leading to panic among congregants. A stampede followed in one of the halls where people were gathered for an 20:00 service. The incident left three dead and nine injured.

WATCH: Bushiri distances himself from church in the wake of stampede that left 3 dead

The commission held a mediation discussion between the ECG church and the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) on January 14, 2019, to gather facts, foster mutual respect and co-existence and encourage a ceasefire between the parties after Sanco called for the church to be closed and the Pretoria Showgrounds, where it is situated, to be handed over to the City of Tshwane.

This was followed by a hearing the commission initiated to investigate several claims, accusations and counter-claims, and to discuss marches and demonstrations organised by Sanco.

ALSO READ: CRL establishes hearing to get to the bottom of stampede at Bushiri church

The commission learnt through the hearings that a certificate was issued for the event by the City of Tshwane's events management joint operations committee (JOC).

"The City of Tshwane's co-chairperson of [the] JOC confirmed these documents as authentic and having been issued by [the] JOC," Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.

However, the commission found that a venue operations centre (VOC) should have been established at the event according to by-laws.

"Such was not established.

"The VOC had to be composed of various bodies including, but not limited to, police officials, disaster management services, [the] fire department, traffic officials and medical services," Mkhwanazi-Xaluva explained.

The body further found that the press statement issued by outgoing Mayor Solly Msimanga was "unfair, unjust and prejudicial to the ECG church".

"The statement wrongfully depicted the church as non-compliant. It ignited the community to demand further that Prophet Bushiri should leave South Africa," she said.

Msimanga issued instructions to bring the church up to code, following an inspection.

READ MORE: Confusion at hearing over who granted compliance certificate for Bushiri church

The CRL recommended the following:

  • The City of Tshwane and South African Police Services should comply with the SSRE Act 2 of 2010.
  • The City of Tshwane should ensure that they always treat all their citizens in a fair and just manner even when under pressure to act otherwise.
  • The Tshwane Business and Agricultural Corporation (TSHWABAC) should ensure that their venues are compliant with the SSRE Act 2 of 2010.
  • The ECG church must do everything in its power to find a suitable venue to accommodate its congregants.
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