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Pretoria - Residents in Elandspoort and Danville, west of Pretoria, are fed-up with a local church’s activities on nearby land.

They said the congregants regularly sacrificed animals on the property and simply dumped the carcasses there.

The church, known as the Great Assembly of Yahweh Sabbath Ministry, is occupying the land in Projektiel Avenue, Elandspoort. They have put up tents on the property, and despite efforts by the City of Tshwane to evict them, they refuse to go.

Wiseman Okaka, who described himself as the high priest in court papers, said they were going nowhere as they hoped that the City would give them the land.

The City, meanwhile, turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, this week in a bid to have the church and its congregation evicted from the land.

Simon Sithole, of the City’s legal department, said in an affidavit that the property was owned by the metro.

It previously operated from Okaka’s home in Danville, but since that property was zoned as residential and not as a place of public worship, the church and its members were evicted.

They then moved on to the premises in Elandspoort in April 2016..

Sithole said the church had ever since tried to buy or lease the property from the City. The latter stated in a letter to the church that the possibility of any sale or lease was subject to further investigation and, ultimately, approval by the municipal council.

The legal department official said this was not a consent to occupy the land, but the letter simply served as explanation to the church as to how the process worked if the City decided to sell the land to anyone.

Sithole said the church remained on the property and even erected a large tent on it where it held its services. The church was in June 2016 told to move, but instead it erected a fence around the property. It was then told to remove the tent and fence, but the church refused.

The City, meanwhile, said it received complaints from the residents in the area regarding the sacrificing of animals and the dumping of the carcasses there. The residents said if they tried to speak to members of the church, they were threatened. The neighbours also complained about the excessive noise during church services.

Okaka, however, said the church had a legitimate expectation of either buying or leasing the land. He said they had the oral consent of the City to remain on the property, pending the outcome of their bid to buy or lease.

Pretoria News