Confusion at hearing over who granted compliance certificate for Bushiri church

2019-01-29 20:43
PHOTO: Shepherd Bushiri Instagram

PHOTO: Shepherd Bushiri Instagram

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A City of Tshwane certificate of compliance issued for a crossover event at controversial prophet Shepherd Bushiri's Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church on December 31, took centre stage at CRL Rights Commission hearings on Tuesday.

The certificate was issued by the City of Tshwane's events management Joint Operations Committee (JOC).

The ECG church is under police investigation following a stampede on December 28 which left three women dead and several others injured. The stampede took place during a church service.

The commission is holding hearings after it was said that there were discrepancies about the stampede at a mediation meeting held with the City of Tshwane, the church, and the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco).

The commission put it to Mayor Solly Msimanga, who appeared before it, that the certificate was issued with a stamp that was dated December 31 – which was the date the event would have taken place.

Msimanga denied that that could happen because, according to him, there were processes that had to be followed before the certificate could be issued.

"You can't apply for an event on the day of the event because there is a whole lot of departments that need to come and give certification.

"You cannot have an event applied for today and approved for today because there are a lot of roleplayers that need to come in, and there are a lot of compliances that need to be adhered to," Msimanga said.

READ: Bushiri's church not closed, but on 7 day prayer and fasting period – spokesperson

The commission demanded answers, based on the certificate they were in possession of. 

But Msimanga told the commission he was merely responding in terms of what was allowed, by law.

"I am not in any way saying somebody did not sign or somebody signed. I am saying it cannot happen because when you deal with the JOC, you need to give people time to appear in order to appear into a meeting. You need to then agree if there some inspections that need to be conducted before compliance."

He maintained that it was impossible for someone to present an event on a day and have it approved on the very same day.

"I am more than happy to engage with the chief of the Metro Police to find out who the signature belongs to [and] what processes had been followed on that day, and we can then provide an answer to it."

The commission said it also struggled to understand how it occurred that a certificate of compliance dated December 31 was issued when the City knew what had happened at the church on December 28.

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

The hearing was adjourned when Msimanga asked to contact his office to get the appropriate officials to provide clarity.

"If we are able to get to the official that signed this, we are able to then look into what actually transpired that led to this and the person should then be able to respond. I am responding in terms of processes that legally should be followed when dealing with events in the city," Msimanga reiterated.

Earlier during the hearing, Msimanga gave the background to the Pretoria Showgrounds where the ECG operated.

He said the property had been donated to Tshwabac in 1995.

However, he added that the title deed was handed over on condition that it be used for diverse shows and activities where the community could get involved.

He said it also had a condition that the property be made available for short-term leases to third parties and that it was not used for any other purposes.

"If you are going to have the place converted into, call it a permanent church, or if a portion is used as a permanent church, there needs to be an application by the property owner so that that could actually be resolved. There's never been any application of that nature. It has always been regarded for the purpose it was intended for," he said. 

The commission is expected to release its findings and recommendations on Thursday.

Read more on:    crl rights commission  |  shepherd bushiri
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