×

We've got news for you.

Register on TimesLIVE at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

Nine congregants die as Covid-19 sweeps through Vredendal church

Even the minister contracted the virus but is on the path to full recovery

01 June 2021 - 15:43 By kgaugelo masweneng
The Uniting Reformed Church congregation in Vredendal, in the Western Cape, is mourning the loss of several congregants, most due to Covid-19 complications.
The Uniting Reformed Church congregation in Vredendal, in the Western Cape, is mourning the loss of several congregants, most due to Covid-19 complications.
Image: Rev Pedro Oktober via Facebook

A community is in mourning after nine people who form part of a small Uniting Reformed Church in Vredendal, in the Western Cape, succumbed to Covid-19 complications over the past two weeks.

The congregation has also suffered the recent loss of other members who died of heart attacks and other illnesses.

“The funerals will start from tomorrow. We have closed the church. There are a lot of families and individuals infected by the virus. We will go online and use that method. No formal services will be taking place,” said Rev Pedro Oktober.

The church reopened when Covid-19 restrictions were eased, but with infections rising it has closed its doors again.

“It’s very sad that this is the way [digital church services] we must conduct ourselves,” said Oktober.

“We did not foresee this tragedy. For a whole year we had been away.” 

Oktober said the community had become lax about observance of Covid-19 hygiene protocols.

“A general thing in Vredendal is that people don’t adhere to protocols. There are a lot of parties and social events,” said the minister.

“The community consists mainly of my congregation, so when we come together we infect each other with the virus.”

Oktober said he regretted that the coronavirus prevented people from comforting each other during a time of pain.

“I also tested positive. For the past two weeks I was sick and had to use Facebook to communicate with the congregation. I was very sick. I never want to feel like that again.

“This meant I couldn’t be there for the people and this caused a lot of heartache. We have a church council that took over the work.

“We have all been affected by the ignorance and defiance of the protocols. Because of Covid-19 they need to isolate and this way we can’t be supportive to each other meaningfully. That part brings more pain to the families.

“I send scriptures and messages of comfort every morning to the families.

“But the storm will be over, the sun will rise again and we will smile again. We must adhere [to Covid-19 protocols] in the meantime.” 

TimesLIVE


subscribe