Shepherd Bushiri must find suitable venue for church: CRL commission
The CRL Rights Commission has found that the call by the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) for Pastor Shepherd Bushiri to leave the country is discriminatory.
The finding comes after the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (the CRL Rights Commission) launched an investigation into the deaths of three women who were killed during a stampede at the church in December 2018.
Bushiri, the leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church, appeared before the commission early this week to explain the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the women.
Bushiri told the commission that the stampede was as a result of people pushing through the door of a hall during a heavy storm on December 28.
Sanco representatives, who also appeared before commission, called for the church to be closed and for Bushiri to go back to Malawi, his home country.
"The demands that Bushiri must leave are discriminatory. It is the responsibility of the department of home affairs, under the Immigration Act, to administer any immigration matter," said Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, chairperson of the CRL.
She said Sanco’s demands that the ECG church close down were unwarranted and "against the spirit and letter of the right to freedom of religion in terms of the constitution.
"These utterances also violate the right of persons belonging to a religious community, congregants from practising their religion," Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.
The commission recommended that the church find a suitable venue to accommodate its congregants following a report by the Tshwane municipality that the church premises did not comply with safety regulations.
According to the report, presented by Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga at the hearing, the escape routes leading to the escape doors at the church’s halls D and H were obstructed and there was insufficient firefighting equipment.