'We will continue to pray,' says Bushiri after church tents set alight
Prayer tents at the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) led by self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri were set alight in Pretoria on Wednesday night, the church said.
The incident occurred after 9pm while Bushiri was on the pulpit during a prayer session at the Pretoria Showgrounds, it said.
“In the wake of Wednesday night's attempt to raze two of the church’s five large prayer tents at Pretoria Showgrounds, the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church is deeply concerned with the incident but, generally, immensely disappointed with tireless attacks on its leader, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, and the congregation,” said the church's spokesperson, Ephraim Nyondo.
He said the incident occurred during a daily prayers session which is part of its “14 days of prayer and fasting”.
Gauteng provincial police spokesperson Capt Kay Makhubele confirmed the incident but said no arrests had been made.
“I can confirm that we are investigating a case of malicious damage to property ... The cause of fire is not yet known ... " he added.
The attack comes after Bushiri and his bodyguard survived an alleged assassination attack on January 26, according to his attorney, Terrance Ntsako Baloyi.
“Coming barely days after the prophet survived an assassination attempt, the church deeply feels that it is under severe attack and it is, with sincerity, seeking for the hand of the state to put a stop to this escalation,” said Nyondo.
Bushiri, on his Facebook page, gave details about the alleged assassination attempt on the day of the incident and urged his supporters to pray for him. “Pray for us, we are facing a lot of battles in this country but one day, the world will hear our side of the story,” he wrote.
Baloyi said his client had survived countless “attacks” and accused the state of failing him. “In other instances, police have been warned of extortion attempts, blackmail and murder threats issued by their own member ... ” he alleged.
He said in the last attack a case had been opened, however Sandton police spokesperson Capt Dan Meyer could not confirm the case of attempted murder, or robbery. “The case number inquired about is not a robbery case,” he said.
The church added it viewed the attacks as “cowardly acts from forces of darkness” aimed at instilling fear among the church members".
“We would like to thank the church’s safety and security team and, also, the fire department for the swift response. We believe the aim of those behind it was to completely raze down these tents.
“We are, hereby, calling on the police and all investigating agencies to help get to the bottom of this unfortunate incident so that justice is not just done, but also seen to be done. As a church, we will continue to be in prayer, asking God to keep protecting us and, also, to shame and expose those who want to destroy the church he built,” added Nyondo.