Bushiri said they didn’t get metro police, disaster management, patrollers, or paramedics – but Sanco asked why the event then went ahead.
Inadequate presence of the City of Tshwane’s law enforcement at the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) is to be blamed for the stampede that led to the deaths of three congregants in December, according to the self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri.
ECG made the claim yesterday at the hearing held by the Cultural Religious and Linguistic Rights Commission into the deaths at the church’s Tshwane premises last month.
Bushiri explained that ahead of their programmes, they applied to the SA Police Service’s joint operations committee (JOC) for an events certificate which usually characterised them as medium-risk.
According to him, this meant they were required to receive law enforcement services such as the metro police, disaster management, patrollers, paramedics and more.
“We think that since we are compliant to JOC, these services are supposed to be part of our programmes,” said Bushiri. “When we go to other municipalities we are given these services but we have never been given such services in Pretoria.”
ECG lawyer Terrence Baloyi said the stampede wouldn’t have happened had the municipality done their part and provided the church with police presence after they had applied for a certificate.
“We wouldn’t be meeting with the JOC every Thursday if we did not need these services,” said Bushiri. “We are being compliant but on their side, I don’t think that’s happening.
“So I hope this mediation will help us so that, together with the city, we go forward.”
While he also said the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) was supposed to be on their side and questioning the municipality on why services were not given to them, Sanco Gauteng spokesperson Chris Malematja said the church’s reasoning behind the stampede could not stand ground in any commission or court of law.
Malematja questioned why the church decided to go ahead with the event when they knew they did not have sufficient measures in place to prevent disasters.
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“We are benchmarking this incident with the Esidimeni tragedy,” Malematja said.
“The three families in question must not get any less than R1 million each for their loss and we will make sure the church is shut down until they meet the compliance requirements.
“They had a constitutional obligation to protect the citizens ….”