SA lockdown: Appeal for religious leaders to act responsibly after pastor arrested over church service
Durban - Bishop Vusi Dube has urged religious leaders to act responsibly during the 21-day lockdown, and not call for services in their church but instead encourage their congregants to engage in prayer within the confines of their homes to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
This comes in the wake of the arrest of a pastor in Nongoma, northern KwaZulu-Natal, for conducting a church service which was attended by 150 people at the weekend. The pastor is currently out on R1000 bail.
Earlier this month Bishop Timothy Bheki Ngcobo, of Nkanyezi Church of Christ, caused a stir when he said that President Cyril Ramaphosa was not God after the president banned gatherings of more than 100 people, including in church services.
He vowed to continue with plans to hold a massive prayer service that would begin on Good Friday (10 April) and end on Easter Monday.
In another incident, Ugandan pastor Augustine Yiga was charged and jailed for telling congregants at his Revival Christian Church on Friday that the coronavirus does not exist in Africa.
Dube on Tuesday said: “It was very irresponsible of the pastor from Nongoma to put people's lives at risk by convening people for a service.
“While we understand that we have a role to bring hope to the people because there’s fear all over and the government has no solutions and we all trust in the supernatural intervention of God, we must also be responsible because the people can still hear our voice even when we use media and other social media platforms to speak to them.”
Dube said that it was important the message from men of the cloth during the Covid-19 crisis was not only scriptural but one that assists the government in terms of helping to control the movement of people, because there were numerous incidents of people not adhering to the lockdown regulations.
“The people are waiting to hear our voice as leaders telling them to stop going to crowded areas like shops at this moment, and it is quite scary that here in Durban, in uMlazi, there’s been a confirmed coronavirus case and the same with Amanzimtoti and Pietermaritzburg.
“This means that this virus is not far away from us and if we as pastors are going to be irresponsible and call people to come together then we are putting the lives of those people in danger,” Dube said.
He added that religious leaders needed to use their voice to pray for the nation and bring hope to the government.