Tshwane - Gauteng's MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane on Wednesday said she has requested to meet with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for an update on the charge of defeating the ends of justice laid against Prophet Shepherd Bushiri's Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church.

Nkosi-Malobane said she has also written to acting South African Police Service's (SAPS) Gauteng provincial commissioner, Major General Macks Masha demanding an update on the investigation into the ECG stampede which left three congregants dead in December.

"I have written to Gauteng acting provincial commissioner, Major General Masha to provide my office with information pertaining to this case. Some of the issues raised in the letter include being updated as to whether any person/persons have been arrested and charged for interfering with the scene as well as the removal of the deceased bodies before the police attended the scene in accordance with the provisions of the South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995," said Nkosi-Malobane.

"I also want to know whether the provisions of the Public Gatherings Act 205 of 1993 had been fully complied with and whether any additional charges are being contemplated in this regard. I am fully aware that the church was not fully compliant with health and safety regulations in terms of the City of Tshwane's events joint operations committee (JOC) at the time of the tragedy," she said.

Nkosi-Malobane said while she subscribes to the principle of innocent until proven guilty, but believed that "charges can be levelled immediately against suspects or organisers for defeating the ends of justice without having to rely on the outcomes of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) hearings". 

"It is very unfortunate that our people have lost their lives in this manner and my responsibility is to ensure that our law enforcement agencies follow up on this matter to the letter,” said MEC Nkosi-Malobane.

Three women were killed in a stampede at the ECG church during a service on December 28. At least 17 other congregants were injured as they ran for shelter during a heavy rainstorm. The deceased women were Patricia Pringane, Matshila Sarah Mohlala, and Lehlogahlo Maria Segodi.

Police are investigating the deaths and a case of defeating the ends of justice has been opened. This relates to the removal of the bodies from the church premises. 

In the aftermath, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) led protests at ECG, with community members calling for the church to be banned from the Tshwane Events Centre.

The CRL Rights Commission has intervened to mediate between ECG and Sanco.

African News Agency (ANA)