Covid-19

Free State churches push the limits on COVID-19 restrictions

Free State churches ignore COVID-19 capacity restrictions.
Written by Molefi Sompane

Several Free State churches have ignored President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call to safely resume religious gatherings where church services are allowed to only accommodate 50 worshippers indoors and a maximum of 100 outdoors. This forms part of the adjusted alert Level 3 lockdown restrictions which kicked in as from 26 July.

To make matters worse, the police in several parts of the Free State including Botshabelo, Welkom, Bloemfontein, Qwaqwa and Sasolburg, have turned a blind eye on proceedings meaning churches are often overcrowded.

Ministers and worshippers believe the COVID-19 restrictions violate their religious rights even though religious gatherings can double up as potential super-spreader events.

Last year a prayer breakfast at the Divine Restoration church in Bloemfontein made headlines when over 800 people, including international visitors, gathered to celebrate Easter. More than 390 people tested positive for the virus.

https://twitter.com/The_Free_Stater/status/1246211347655901192

President of the National Church Council (NCC), Dr Hlobo Monokoane, has called on church leaders to remain defiant and get to work.

Labelled ‘anti-COVID’ by some, Monokoane has refused to respond to any questions.

Free State: Community threatens to vandalise churches

Members of the community in Botshabelo have also threatened to vandalise churches that are not adhering to the restrictions. The virus has found its way into Sunday sermons, minister meetings and Christian youth camps throughout the province. COVID-19 safe or not, no place of worship has escape unscathed.

Health-e News can confirm that Monokoane and other pastors refuse to wear masks while presiding over services and continue to maintain physical contact with worshippers.

Free State Police spokesperson Motantsi Makhele has called on the community to help authorities in reporting these incidents.

“You’d notice that we attend to matters which are reported to us and we cannot be in all the churches at once. I urge our people to come forward and report these churches,” said Makhele.

The NCC is yet to respond. – Health-e News

About the author

Molefi Sompane