South African Police Service (SAPS) has cracked the whip on illegal protesters against Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church by arresting three members of the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco), who have been burning tyres and chanting xenophobic chants.
The would-be picketers and police were involved in an argument about the starting of a fire at the entrance of Bushiri’s church. -Photo: Keitumetse Maako
Angry protesters barricade WF Nkomo Street with burning tyres. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency
Sanco’s regional secretary Portia Mokoena said they were arrested while leaving a tavern in the Pretoria West on Sunday afternoon. Mokoena said two members were also injured.
The protests were done at the church following the death of three congregants while trying to reach shelter during heavy thunderstorms on December 28.
Meanwhile, one of South Africa’s political movements, Black Land First (BLF), has said the tragic death of three black people at ECG church must not be used by those who are in competition with Major 1 and by xenophobes for nefarious agendas.
In a statement seen by Nyasa Times signed by its leader, Andile Mximata , BLF has called on the police to do their work without fear or favour.
“At the same time we ask our people not to be used against Prophet Bushiri by people with evil agendas.
“We have never seen such violent actions waged against white Anglican, Catholic and Dutch churches. Despite the existence of irrefutable evidence of sexual violence perpetrated on innocent children and women by the clergy of the white churches, there is no outrage.
“Our people have freedom of religion and we must all respect that. Furthermore, BLF calls on Prophet Bushiri to fully cooperate with the police. We repeat, please stop the violence against fellow blacks and hands off Prophet Bushiri.”
Bushiri, known as Major 1 and Papa, is a Malawian charismatic preacher . He started his ministry in 2002 and is today one of the continent’s richest pastors, possibly even one of the richest in the world, with branches in a number of African countries, and supporters from near and far.
Prophet Bushiri was not at the church when the tragedy occurred and apparently ‘broke down’ when he was told about of the deaths of his congregants.
Taking to his Facebook page on Monday, Bushiri explained that he had been silent on the matter because he valued life more than “bickering”. He said even though the media was “hostile” towards him and his church, he still chose to remain silent out of respect.
“At times we choose silence, because we value human life above bickering. We value God’s work above all else. Words are powerful and mean a lot. The media might be hostile but our silence is not cowardice but respect.
“When we do speak, if you listen, you will understand that the anointing is always in control.”
ECG was currently on “recess” until January 20. The last service at the church was held on New Year’s Eve.
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