Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG) and South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) have agreed to dialogue and map a way towards amicable coexistence.
This comes weeks after an incident at the church’s new year event which saw three people unfortunately losing their lives.
SANCO had mobilised people for protests against the church and its leadership but the intervention of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) which mediated between the two parties brought the two warring groups to a round table.
During the meeting, Prophet Bushiri said it was regrettable that SANCO did not engage his church prior to the protests.
“It came as a shock for the church to learn through the media of protest outside Pretoria showgrounds in the first week of the church recess.
“The church hurriedly gathered that the protests were organised by South African civil organisation SANCO who were according to media reports were demanding the closure of the church and the immediate sending back of myself to my home country Malawi,” Prophet Bushiri said.
After understanding SANCO’s bone of contention, ECG found their grievances plausible and agreed to meet for a conversation.
“However with days and media reports we came to learn about the motives of the protest. We gathered that SANCO had a couple of issues of concern regarding people that sleep outside our church premises, the issues of the people that died and for the church to take responsibility.
It was just unfortunate SANCO didn’t initially engage us in any way to raise such issues which arguably reflects the genuine concerns about the welfare of South African people. We may not agree with some of the methods and statements but as a church we share with them the concern for ensuring the safety, health and security of every South African,” Prophet Bushiri added.
ECG then responded to calls for dialogue which bore fruit.
“It was against this that is why the CRL Rights commission invited the church to the mediation table with SANCO, we felt it was an opportune and civil moment for deeper engagement. Through that meeting SANCO and the church agreed on several points to consider in resolving the issue at hand and we would like to appreciate both sides for stating within agreed terms,” said Prophet Bushiri.
He then called on SANCO to treat the church like any other entity in need of their protection in South Africa.
“Here is our appeal to SANCO, as a church we feel we are part of the community which SANCO protects, we therefore would like to call on SANCO to protect us as well. We wish to reiterate that we want SANCO to be the first to stand for us in some of the challenges we face in our operations,” Prophet Bushiri said.
During his presentation, he also said the church took responsibility and apologised for the unfortunate occurrence which has stirred controversy in South African media.