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Church approves repeal of Covid-19 rules, but raises alarm over 'rogue cops'

The IPHC Jerusalem has welcomed the repeal of Covid-19 regulations, but complain of ongoing harassment of its members by "rogue" police officers. Photo: Supplied/IPHC Jerusalem

The IPHC Jerusalem has welcomed the repeal of Covid-19 regulations, but complain of ongoing harassment of its members by "rogue" police officers. Photo: Supplied/IPHC Jerusalem

Published Jun 24, 2022

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Pretoria – Despite the go-ahead by government for organisations to host mass gatherings, and the repeal of the wearing of masks indoors, the Jerusalem faction of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC), led by Michael Sandlana, says it will continue to observe Covid-19 regulations and bring congregants back in a streamlined manner.

“We are very excited about this new development. It has been very difficult and very tough for us as religious communities. Our nature is to nourish our spirits, and the manner we do that is by gathering. We pray through gathering, but now with the limitations and the restrictions of the gathering numbers, it has been very difficult,” IPHC Jerusalem spokesperson Vusi Ndala told a national broadcaster.

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“In our particular case, even though we stopped congregating in the early days of Covid-19, during the hard lockdown, we were able to gather using decentralized systems of congregating, in other words, allowing branches and the regions to congregate instead of coming together in one place. We are a huge church.”

He said the church, which boasts millions of congregants on its books across South Africa and neighbouring countries, would not be “reckless” in its reopening.

“With the lifting of the restrictions, it is going to be very much helpful. Things are going to go back to normal. However, we are not naive and we are not taking this lifting very recklessly. In our case, we are going to observe the health protocols and also limit the numbers voluntarily now... we may have to do so for the remainder of the year and start to open fully in the coming year,” said Ndala.

He told the broadcaster that IPHC Jerusalem had earlier held a media briefing where it voiced concern over “rogue and corrupt police officers” interfering in the ongoing court wrangle for control of the popular church.

“Our words of protest since early last year [have been] about the abuse of State resources by these rogue and corrupt police officers. We articulated clearly where our concerns are. Our church, as a result of the passing on of our leader in 2016, went into a leadership lacuna, so we had a gap of leadership and we had those that were putting up their hands to become leaders. Now, in that leadership succession battle, there are those who are taking advantage and using these police to make up bogus cases,” he said.

“We have complained, but our complaints seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Then we had a very big march at the end of March this year to the office of the minister of police. We handed [over] a memorandum of demands... but still the implementation of that memorandum is very poor. The media briefing was to update our members and the community at large.”

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He said “rogue and corrupt police officers” were not only affecting the church, but were a blight on South African society.

In March, thousands of disgruntled members affiliated with IPHC Jerusalem took to the streets of Pretoria, waving placards denouncing the alleged harassment by “rogue” members of the SAPS.

Members of the IPHC Jerusalem marching to the SAPS headquarters in March, calling for an investigation into certain police officers. File Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

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