Police have until tomorrow to give an update on the case of defeating the ends of justice against the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church, led by Prophet Shepherd Bushiri.
This is according to Gauteng MEC for Community Safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, who has called on police to expedite the case.
Three women were killed in a stampede at the church during a service on December 28. Nine other congregants were injured as they ran for shelter during a heavy rainstorm.
The church has been charged with defeating the ends of justice as the incident was not immediately reported to law enforcement. The bodies were taken to a private mortuary without the families’ knowledge or consent.
The deaths sparked debate on social media, as well as massive protests and calls for the church to be shut down, and for self-proclaimed prophet Bushiri to leave the country.
Nkosi-Malobane said she had written to acting provincial commissioner Major-General Max Masha, asking about the arrests of those responsible.
“Some of the issues raised in the letter include being updated as to whether any person/persons have been arrested and charged for interfering with the scene,” Nkosi-Malobane said.
“I also wanted to know whether the provisions of the Public Gatherings Act had been fully complied with, and whether any additional charges are being contemplated in this regard.
“I am aware that the church was not fully compliant with health and safety regulations in terms of the City of Tshwane’s events joint operations committee at the time of the tragedy.
“I am of the view that charges can be levelled immediately against suspects or organisers for defeating the ends of justice without having to rely on the outcomes of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities hearing,” she said.
This week, Bushiri appeared before the commission and apologised for the incident.
Meanwhile, Controversial Pastor and self styled Prophet, Shepherd Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) is set to spend the weekend in jail after being arrested on Friday on charges of fraud and money laundering.
Bushiri was arrested at 7:00 am together with his wife Prophetess Mary Bushiri at the lavish Sparkling Waters Hotel by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation team also known as the Hawks – a special division of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
According to the statement released on the SAPS website, The Hawks’ case against the pair, concerns alleged offences of fraud, money laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. (POCA), committed from 2015, in relation to Exchange Control Regulations related to foreign currency in an amount of $1,147,200 USD.
The couple who run several business enterprises in South Africa and abroad are expected to appear before the Pretoria Commercial Crime Court on Monday, 4 February 2019.
– THE MERCURY / Nyasha Times