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Joy as Zion Christian Church reopens for first time in two years

A file picture of Bishop of ZCC Barnabas Lekganyane and Patrice Motsepe at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA)

A file picture of Bishop of ZCC Barnabas Lekganyane and Patrice Motsepe at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 25, 2022


Pretoria - One of Africa’s biggest churches, the Zion Christian Church (ZCC), reopened yesterday for the first time since the country went into national lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 in March 2020.

The announcement yesterday was welcomed by millions of its members, who felt they were being starved of their faith, most noticeably not making the annual pilgrimage to Moria, the church’s headquarters, for the third year running.

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Millions of ZCC followers are known for descending on Moria outside Polokwane in Limpopo every Easter in what is known as the biggest gathering in the country to listen to a sermon by the church leader, Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane. Both the ZCC and St Engenas ZCC complied with the lockdown regulations in March 2020 when President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed lockdown alert level 5.

The church remained closed last week during the Easter celebrations despite Ramaphosa allowing churches to reopen subject to conditions.

Efforts to reach the ZCC’s secretary-general, Ephraim Mafetsa, to establish what safety mechanisms had been put in place were fruitless.

Twitter was also ablaze after news broke that the ZCC was reopening.

The public and business people alike were over the moon at the possibilities of them returning to their home of worship. They said they could not celebrate Easter without gathering at their church headquarters or make money from selling food and other items in the vicinity.

Rosina Molekwane, of Bela Bela in Waterberg, said although she understood why there was no church, she had felt betrayed by the president because this was the only place where she would pray for the pandemic to go away.

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“It must have been the worst time of our lives because the one place we could go and pray was off limits because that is also a place that could have got us sick.

“I can express the joy I have inside for being able to go back to church… I can't wait for Sunday,” she said.

Samuel Maropjane, also of Bela Bela, said he would not waste any more time staying at home. He would travel to Moria “just to step on the land” even if there was no sermon.

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Easter Makhubela from Thabazimbi said all she ever hoped for was to go to Moria – ever since joining the church in January 2020 she has not had the opportunity to visit the church’s headquarters.

Business people, who usually make thousands during the Easter weekend when millions of ZCC members gather, were equally overjoyed.

Thony Lebelo from Turfloop in Polokwane said he had to let go of his business when the lockdown hit after realising there would not be a ZCC pilgrimage.

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Pretoria News