The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has urged the government to arrest religious leaders who insist on defying the government’s ban on gatherings of more than 100 people.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the ban last Sunday as part of the government’s measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EFF said, “The government must not hesitate to arrest any reckless leader who encourages his or her congregants to continue to gather in numbers. Such lunatics must be arrested immediately.”
SA Zionist Church vows to defy ban
Ramaphosa met the country’s top religious leaders earlier this week. Most of them pledged to adhere to the ban.
However, the South African Zionist Church has remained defiant and has insisted that it will go ahead with its Easter services.
In an interview with SABC News on Thursday, its spokesperson Bishop Bheki Ngcobo said, “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.”
Gauteng Health’s interdict against church
The EFF’s call came on the same day Gauteng’s Department of Health announced that it had obtained a court interdict against a defiant church in Katlehong, east of Johannesburg.
In a statement, the Department said, “The church has been interdicted and restrained with immediate effect from convening a church service that is not in accordance with the gazetted regulations.”
It said non-compliance with the regulations could result in fines or arrests because mass gatherings put people at greater risk of contracting COVID-19.
As of Friday afternoon, South Africa had a total of 202 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the number of local transmissions also rising.
During a media briefing in the Free State on Friday, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the outbreak could affect as much as 60 percent of South Africa’s population.
He said, “When you deal with epidemics, you need to understand that the virus could affect many people, even up to about 60 percent.
“But it doesn’t mean that those people are going to die, it doesn’t mean that all of them are going to get it at the same time, and it doesn’t mean that we now have an apocalypse.”