Pretoria - Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s, Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) has been dealt another blow after the City of Tshwane issued them with an Order to Comply on Friday.
Mayoral spokesperson, Samkelo Mgobozi, said the order came about following a joint site inspection by the Tshwane Emergency Services Department observed a number non-compliance at the churches rented premises.
Mgobozi said during the inspection of the halls at the Tshwane Events Centre, along Soutter street, they saw that escape routes and doors were obstructed, there were insufficient firefighting equipment and emergency lights in the facility.
He said they also found that the church didn’t even have an evacuation plan available and stored diesel, a dangerous fuel, in a trailer inside the building.
There was also no proper seating arrangement during the inspection, he added.
“Although the department cannot comment on the population load, it noted by the number of chairs that the population during sermons was high.”
With the venue’s population stipulating that it not exceed 778 in Hall D, and up to 1900 in Hall H, only provided that all emergency escape doors were operational.
It is for this reason Mgobozi said the city issued the Order to Comply.
Thus giving the church 30 days to ensure that the required levels of compliance were met, failing which a prohibition notice would be issued barring the church from conducting any of its activities.
Meanwhile, the ECG stakeholders holding a media briefing at Court Classique, moved to request that the person of Bushiri be separated from the church as no one was above the church.
Communication Director ECG International, Ephraim Nyondo, said the church was officially registered in South Africa with membership and leadership being predominantly South African citizens.
Nyondo said following an ongoing internal investigation following the stampede at the church on December 28, that led to the deaths of three women congregants, they had suspended four people.
This being the churches head resident pastor and three security personnel were indefinitely suspended pending ongoing investigations.
For what he said the church leadership felt did not perform their duties or may have allowed it to transpire.
They stressed that no church vehicles were used or persons were involved in the removal of the bodies from where the incident took place or to the mortuary.
“We are doing our best to reach out to the families of our “Siblings in Christ,” We know we have taken time to reply but please understand that we are a family in mourning.”
When asked about non-compliance issues raised by the City, Nyondo said they were yet to receive any communication from the city and that it was the first they were hearing of this.
Save for that they would look into the report.
However, ECG Attorney Terrance Baloyi said joint operations committee meetings which the city was represented in had indicated that they were compliant to host the crossover event.
And such the church still had copies of the certificate of compliance for December 31 authorising them to host the sermon.
“Every month we are issued with a certificate of compliance with the City’s by-laws. We are fully compliant and the incident was a ‘natural disaster’ but we look to improve.”