Prophet Shepherd Bushiri will today represent Enlightenment Christian Gathering (ECG) church at a hearing convened by South Africa’s CRL Rights Commission. Meanwhile, Major One, as Bushiri is fondly referred to by his followers, has distanced himself from ECG.
The meeting was called to resolve several claims, accusations and counter-claims and to discuss marches and demonstrations organised by the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco), which is demanding the church’s closure, following a stampede at ECG in Pretoria that killed three people and left nine others seriously injured.
A report by News24 claims that the hearing was considered necessary after several discrepancies came to light regarding the stampede at a mediation meeting at the Tshwane Events Centre on December 28.
According to the police, they were only notified about the tragedy the next afternoon and immediately dispatched officers to the scene.
“In order to get to the bottom of these issues and to address the discrepancies that continue to prevail, the CRL Rights Commission has decided to call for the hearings in line with Section 7 (2) of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Act, 19 of 2002,” the commission’s Mpiyakhe Mkholo said.
Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga will appear on behalf of the municipality; Abraham Mashishi will appear for Sanco and Dr Ndivho Lukhwareni will appear on behalf of the City of Johannesburg. Bushiri will represent ECG.
According to News24, Bushiri has distanced himself from the ECG Church in South Africa.
His spokesperson, Maynard Manyowa, told media: “There has been an incorrect tendency to conflate the person of Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and the ECG Church.”
“The ECG Church is not his church, it belongs to South Africa and South Africans. The directors of the ECG are South Africans, our resident pastors are South Africans,” Manyowa said.
“Even in the contracts, for example, the lease [at the Tshwane Events Centre] is not between Shepherd Bushiri and other parties, it is between the ECG Church and other parties.”
While each ECG Church branch is individually owned, Bushiri is the president of the institution.
Manyowa said the deaths were not Bushiri’s problem, but rather a problem with which the church should deal.
Police have opened a case of defeating the ends of justice against the church as the bodies of the deceased were allegedly removed from the premises without the police being notified of the incident. The bodies were taken to a private mortuary called Red Ford Mortuary.