Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader Shepherd Bushiri. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA).

TSHWANE - The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) on Wednesday distanced itself from "a community member" who went to apologise to Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader and self-proclaimed prophet, Shepherd Bushiri.

"Sanco in the Greater Tshwane region has noted with concern the apology from one of the people who were in the protest against the death of three women at the Enlightened Christian Gathering church.... We have been reliably informed that one of the protesters has gone to offer apologies to Prophet Shepherd Bushiri for being a part of the protests that put the church on a sabbatical," Sanco Tshwane regional chairperson Abram Mashishi said.

"The aforementioned member of the public went to apologise to Shepherd Bushiri in his personal capacity and not as any leader of society, organisation or formation. Because we live in a democratic society, his actions are noted but they do not form the opinion of Sanco as an organisation."

Mashishi emphasised that the ANC-aligned organisation had not itself offered an apology to the charismatic ECG leader, following a fallout in the wake of the three congregants' death at the Pretoria-based church on December 28.

"We have offered no apology to anyone at the church, and will not do so until this matter is promptly resolved," said Mashishi.

Moving on, Mashishi said the regional executive committee of Sanco in the Greater Tshwane area had a special meeting, which took place on Sunday, where "it was resolved to continue the fight in this issue without fear or favour for the betterment of those who are in loss and to avoid these situations in the future".

The fatal stampede happened during a heavy rainstorm as congregants ran for shelter at the Pretoria Events Centre, rented by the ECG. At least 17 other congregants were injured. Patricia Pringane, Matshila Sarah Mohlala and Lehlogahlo Maria Segodi died in the incident.

In the aftermath, Sanco led protests at ECG, with community members calling for the church to be expelled from the Pretoria venue and for Bushiri to be deported to Malawi.

The watchdog on matters of religion, the CRL Rights Commission, quickly stepped in, initiating a mediation process in which Bushiri, City of Tshwane former mayor Solly Msimanga, and Sanco’s Mashishi were called to testify.
 
The final report on the mediation process, publicly released by the CRL Rights Commission, exonerated Bushiri and the ECG of wrongdoing.

African News Agency (ANA)