South Africans have commended the Zion Christian Church for its decisions to suspend its much-anticipated Easter pilgrimage – following the presidential prohibition on gatherings of more than 100 due to Covid-19 in the country.
Emmanuel Motolla, spokesperson for the church, said the decision was taken last week but could not be made public yet as the structures of the church needed to be officially informed first.
“The church’s spiritual leader, His Grace the Reverend Dr BE Lekganyane, made the decision on Friday 13 March following a briefing meeting with the leadership of the church with a delegation from national government led by Dr Zweli Mkhize,” Motolla said.
He said a new date would be announced at a later stage.
Referring to letters circulating on social media reportedly from ZCC, Motolla said they were all fake.
“Communication from the leadership of the church is not signed by the head. They are normally from the office of the secretary with additional signatures from officials in the office of the bishop. Also, we normally send out letters only in Sepedi. So, fortunately, these letters making the round are fake,” Motolla said.
Speaking to DRUM, Nathaniel Mathebula, a senior ZCC member and pastor, said his branch had made peace with the announcement.
“The highlight of the calendar for a ZCC member is the Easter pilgrimage. We are obviously sad that we don’t get to do that this year, but also relieved that many of our people can stay at home and be safe from the potential harm that exists by bringing too many people in one space.
“It also makes us happy that we get to demonstrate to the people of South Africa that we care for the wellbeing of not only our more than 15 million members, but their communities as well,” Mathebula said.
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that gatherings of over 100 people were not allowed for the foreseeable future.
The announcement came amid the ongoing battle against Covid-19, which saw at least 116 people (and counting) in South Africa test positive.
Meanwhile, to limit physical contact, some churches and religious groups have cancelled their Sunday services and other gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus.Rhema Bible Church, Hillsong South Africa and Enlightened Christian Gathering Church are some of the holy places that have heeded the president’s call.