Lockdown regulations ignoring our rights — Port Elizabeth church
A Port Elizabeth pastor has accused governments across the globe of “turning against Jesus Christ” as his church questions some of South Africa’s lockdown regulations.
A letter sent by the Word of Faith Christian Centre to the SA Police Service — as well as several videos posted on the church’s Facebook page — label some of the lockdown restrictions irrational and discriminatory.
The church on Friday got lawyers involved to dispute the matter after Nelson Mandela Bay police emphasised that drive-through services were not exempt from the 50-people regulation.
In a letter sent to the SAPS, the church’s lawyers — G Malgas and Associates — accused police of infringing the public’s right to freedom of religion and movement.
The letter has also been posted on the Word of Faith Facebook page.
The letter further labelled the regulations as irrational and discriminatory against the religious sector.
The letter compared drive-in church services to shopping centre parking lots, saying it was unfair that shopping centre parking was not limited to 50 people while churchgoers parked in their cars were restricted.
Other “irrational” rules the letter referred to related to casinos, which the church said could “fill 50% of their available floor space with persons. Our client is only allowed to fill 5% of their available floor space.
“This is clearly discriminatory and a violation of fundamental rights.”
The Word of Faith Christian Centre, which had been conducting drive-in services before the police’s statement last week, had to cancel the past weekend’s drive-in service after police responded to the letter, saying they would monitor and charge anyone found to be in contravention of the 50-people regulation.
The police’s response was also publicised by the church on Facebook.
Announcing the cancellation of Sunday’s drive-in service via a video on Facebook, Word of Faith pastor Jimmy Crompton said governments around the world were turning against Jesus Christ and that people needed to go to church.
“It’s a very sad day here in SA where we are told that the police will shut us down if we have church in the parking lot.
“I want to tell you, we’d better wake up. The devil is trying to take over the world, we’d better serve Jesus Christ,” Crompton said.
He urged people to attend church next Sunday, when multiple services in limited numbers of 50 or fewer less people would be held.
“If I have to, I’ll preach 10 times on Sunday.
“You need to come and serve the lord. We need to ride this storm and we pray that it will end shortly,” he said, adding that the church would obey the law.
Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu confirmed they had received the letter and responded on Friday.
She said police would continue to monitor churches and take action against anyone in contravention of the regulations.
Last week, police listed excessive numbers of people at religious services, funerals, not wearing masks and breaking the 9pm to 4am curfew among the most common offences.
Crompton told his congregants they “need to hide the word in your hearts while there’s permission”.
“God only knows how that is going to last and how the problems are going to increase because it’s obvious the governments of this world are turning against Jesus Christ and the gospel.”
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