Sunday, 31 May 2020

VAPOSITORI DEFY LOCKDOWN BAN


CHURCHES, mostly Apostolic sect groups continue to meet for church services in Bulawayo in violation of Covid-19 national lockdown regulations and police yesterday swooped on one of the religious sects.

A Chronicle news crew yesterday drove around the city’s western suburbs and observed that churches of the Apostolic Faith sect were still conducting services at their shrines.

In all areas visited by the news crew, members were not observing social distancing and they were also not wearing masks. Social distancing is one of the measures recommended for curbing the spread of Covid-19.
The churches were holding their services under trees and on hilltops. Mr Jameson Musengi of Healing Apostolic Faith Church in Njube said they were only conducting prayer sessions.

“We are aware of the ban on church gatherings and I want to make it clear that we are not here to conduct a church service. We are actually here to pray then we disperse because it is important with or without Covid-19 to dedicate ourselves to God through prayer,” said Mr Musengi.

However, the news crew observed that there was a proper church service which was being conducted. 

Ms Sibongile Sibanda, an elder at Kuera Apostolic Faith Church in Nkulumane 12 suburb also said they were only meeting for prayer purposes.

“Our leader was caught in the South African lockdown and therefore as members we decided to continue gathering at our shrine for prayers. We are not conducting sermons but simply praying for the wellbeing of our families and the generality of mankind,” she said.

Johane Masowe weChishanu Church members gather at their shrine in New Magwegwe suburb yesterday. Some churches continue to meet for services in violation of Covid-19 national lockdown regulations

Chronicle also visited another Apostolic Faith sect in New Magwegwe suburb where there was a handful of worshippers gathered under a tree for a church service.

Yesterday, police raided Madzibaba Emmanuel Mutumwa of Johane Masowe weChishanu and his members at their Selbourne Park shrine in Bulawayo following a tip off.

The number of arrested congregants was not immediately available last night.

Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube said police yesterday dispersed a group of Apostolic sect worshippers who were conducting an illegal church service in Selbourne Park suburb. 

“This morning (yesterday) we received a tip off from members of the public that some members of an Apostolic sect had gathered for a church service in Selbourne Park suburb and we immediately deployed our officers to their place of worship. We also dispersed some women who were playing soccer at Mzilikazi Youth Centre this morning (yesterday) and as police we don’t condone such kind of behaviour. People should comply with Government Covid-19 lockdown regulations,” he said.

Insp Ncube said people who violate national lockdown regulations risk being arrested.

“It is quite disturbing to note that we have some rogue elements who are not taking Covid-19 seriously. They only comply when there are police officers in the vicinity which should not be the case because complying with regulatons is not meant to please the police but to curb the spread of Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

Since Government announced the ban on church gatherings as part of the Covid-19 lockdown regulations, most churches resorted to conducting virtual services.

Some congregants have also resorted to opening groups for services and using the cheaper WhatsApp platform.

To promote social distancing and minimise the spread of the virus, some congregants are worshipping privately in their homes with the necessary support in the form of livestreaming, downloading or printed worship packages and sermons, which are availed to members through their pastors.

Under the lockdown regulations, all public gatherings are banned, except for funerals where not more than 50 people are allowed to attend. Chronicle

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