The Council of African Independent Churches (CAIC) said it has learned with disbelief of a confrontation between police and churchgoers in Sebokeng, Zone 7, on Sunday.
While the Council condemned the discharge of stunt grenade and rubber bullets on the worshippers, it has also lambasted the concerned churches and its leaders for the defiance of a clearly articulated lockdown level 3 regulation, which prohibits religious gatherings.
“It is indeed appalling and leaves much to be desired. Whilst we understand the role of SAPS and all other law enforcement agencies, it boggles our mind as to the manner in which our congregants were treated.
“It is disheartening that people of faith could be treated like this, our view of social justice means that all and sundry be treated in a humane and dignified manner.
“We strongly believe that the matter could have been handled differently as opposed to discharging rubber bullets and stunt grenades to defenceless and unarmed congregants, as alleged.
Each time that Christians are treated this way, CAIC will cry out and declare “Not Again” and condemn such actions! We ask all institutions to find other ways of resolving problems other that violence,” said CAIC Secretary General Bishop TS Ngcana.
He said it should be noted that the country is in the second wave where daily infections of above 15 000 are recorded daily. Thus, it is important for all to adhere to the lockdown regulations that are aimed at protecting and preserving lives and livelihood.
Ngcana stressed that the church in particular should commit to these regulations, as it has always been the case, without giving in.
“In the circumstances, CAIC continues to promote the correct and consistent wearing of cloth face-mask, social distancing and hand hygiene, to name a few.
“These measures must be sustained including but not limited to ensuring that our homes and churches should be well ventilated because the virus lingers in the air for some time.
“Notwithstanding all of the above and having noted that the church service / meeting and its leaders were in direct conflict with the covid 19 regulations,” he said.
The Council further noted that the alert level 3 regulations prohibited all forms of gathering including religious gatherings.
“However, the Council condemns the horrendous way in which the congregants were invited to attend a prohibited gathering and subsequently treated by police,” said Ngcana.