Home South African Pastors march to Union Buildings, want Ramaphosa to allow churches to reopen

Pastors march to Union Buildings, want Ramaphosa to allow churches to reopen

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At least 100 pastors congregated at Church Square to pray for a divine solution to Covid-19

Pastors are escorted by the SAPS in their march to the Union Buildings. Picture: Rapula Moatshe

PRETORIA – A group of pastors marched to the Union Buildings on Friday, where they demanded that President Cyril Ramaphosa reopen churches under the adjusted Level 3 lockdown.

At least 100 of them congregated at Church Square in the morning to pray for a divine solution to Covid-19 before departing to hand over a memorandum of demands to a representative from the Presidency.

Only 10 of them were, however, allowed to make their way to the Union Buildings in the company of SAPS officers and metro police.

The march was staged in the wake of the recent announcement by Ramaphosa banning religious gatherings under the adjusted Level 3 lockdown.

The spokesperson for Pastors Against Church Closure, Moafrika Maila, said pastors called for churches to be opened because it was illogical to open restaurants, casinos, gyms and cinemas while churches remained closed.

“It is not a logical thinking that the restaurants and casinos are open, the gym and cinemas. What is the difference between these places and the churches?” he asked.

He said churches would make sure that Covid-19 safety measures would be adhered to if the government allowed them to open.

“We will make sure that we sanitise people and we do social distancing. We will make sure that we cut the practises in the church that can cause the infection of Covid-19 to spread – such as giving people water. We can even cut the singing, but we want people to come to churches for moral support,” Maila said.

One of the participants, Bishop Kelly Montsho, said the group represented around 257 charismatic independent churches across the country.

Montsho slammed the government for failing to consult with the charismatic churches before the implementation of the lockdown regulations.

He accused the government of only consulting with the South African Council of Churches, which didn’t represent them.

“We are crying for consultation. The government speaks to pastors and religious groups and we don’t know who those people are because we are not part of that group,” he said.

He shot down the suggestion that pastors wanted to open churches because they were interested in making money during church gatherings.

“There is an error that we are here for money. I was working in the corporate world and I left. I have got my own income. However, money also matters and we have rent to pay, we have levies to pay and our life to sustain. They are giving everybody relief funds except pastors,” Montsho said.

He said the government was only interested in the services of pastors during the election period.

“You will see them now in August because we are going for the election. They will come to the churches because according to them we are only good for votes and not good for Covid-19. I think that is very much unfair,” he said.

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