WATCH | Eastern Cape villagers arrested over lockdown church service
Eastern Cape churchgoers who held an Easter church service were arrested for breaching lockdown regulations at Khasa village in Elliotdale on Friday.
A video of the arrests was widely circulated on social media, with many users blasting the congregation for failing to obey the rules and putting lives at risk. Those arrested, who were described as being members of the Zion Christian Church, could be heard singing while they entered the local police station with officers keeping watch.
The South African Police raided a village near Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape and arrested church members who were holding a church service in defiance of the national Covid-19 lockdown. #coronavirusinafrica https://t.co/pdbeVH2hzA pic.twitter.com/ODvmJlKnfD— Dispatch AFRICA (@africa_dispatch) April 11, 2020
Police confirmed the arrests to DispatchLIVE on Friday evening. “I can confirm that 11 people, 8 women and 3 men were arrested today in Elliotdale and charged for contravention of the Disaster Management Act after they organised a church service,” said national police spokesperson Brig Vish Naidoo.
The church members were released with warnings and will appear before the Elliotdale magistrate’s court on Tuesday, April 14.
Police watch church goers from Elliotdale in the Eastern Cape as they enter the local police station after their arrest for holding a church service in defiance of the national Covid-19 lockdown. #coronavirusinafrica https://t.co/pdbeVH2hzA pic.twitter.com/6Ag0nzcrHp— Dispatch AFRICA (@africa_dispatch) April 11, 2020
An eyewitness said the service started at about 7am on Friday. He said all the worshippers were from the same village. “The police arrived at about 1pm. The congregants were loaded into three vans,” he told DispatchLIVE.
He said villagers were not shocked by the turn of events. Ahead of the Easter weekend traditional leaders and the local ward councillor advised locals to obey the rules, according to the eyewitness.
“The arrests served them right because they were being arrogant. The lockdown rules should be respected because they are meant to protect us from the virus,” he added.