The South African Zionist Churches has raised questions over why companies, which employ thousands of people, are still allowed to operate – while a public ban prohibits thousands of the organisation’s members from gathering.
The remarks were in response to government’s banning of gatherings of more than 100 people in its bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. South Africa has 116 cases of coronavirus and no reported deaths.
Spokesperson for the SA Zionist Churches Bishop Bheki Ngcobo says, “Why are companies still allowed to operate? They were given the precautions and those companies have more than a thousand workers in one building.”
“But only the church must not go and worship the Lord. I am not disputing what the President is saying because it is his country, but I do understand that in South Africa God is there. In our congregation, we agreed that we are going to worship the Lord in numbers,” explains Ngcobo.
Easter service of denominations that are part of the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council will also go ahead as planned.
Members met in Durban to discuss the impact of the virus on their congregations and operations.
Speaking in his capacity as chairperson of the KwaZulu-Natal Church Leaders Group Cardinal Wilfrid Napier says members have taken a decision not to halt Easter services, but to continue under the confines of social distancing.
“We will continue with the Easter services but take every precaution that’s necessary. Do whatever is possible to avoid any danger of contamination. We understand what the government has asked us to do and we’re going to comply with that as much as we can. Easter is our most important time as Christians how do we live our Christian faith of we just limit Easter or play it down to such an extent that it has not meaning anymore?”
The CRL Rights Commission is startled by this and is calling for compliance to government’s directive.
“It is a very startling and unacceptable remarks by making comparisons of one thing or the other. The state of disaster is law. Religious leaders must understand the sanctity and protection of human lives. I think nowhere is it disputed that people must not pray. The spread of the virus could be minimised and the lives of South Africans can be spared. So this is not the time to bicker and differ, it is the time to unite behind the government and precautions,” the Chairperson of the CRL Professor David Mosoma says.
‘Concerned’ ZCC postpones Easter pilgrimage
Earlier, the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) announced that it has postponed its Easter Conference that was scheduled to take place in April until further notice.
The church’s Easter pilgrimage is attended by millions annually.
Speaking to SABC News on Tuesday, ZCC spokesperson Reverend Emmanuel Motolla said the church would announce a new date once normality has been restored.
Further plans to limit COVID-19 spread
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned COVID-19 could overwhelm strained public health systems in sub-Saharan Africa.
Countries across the globe are taking measures to try and limit its spread.
With cases going up, South Africa is implementing plans to step up on precautionary measures.
These include strict entry rules, barring travellers from high-risk countries.