By Duncan Mlanjira
South African civil society organization, the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), has mobilized people in protesting against Malawian evangelist, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) following the death of four congregants during a stampede that took place on 28 December, 2018.
According to reports published by http://www.tidbitmw.com, 10 other people were injured during the stampede that took place at Tshwane Events Centre where ECG meets in Pretoria for its church services.
The report on http://www.tidbitmw.com says SANCO president, Abraham Mashishi led the protestants who blocked the entrance to Tshwane Events Centre, burning tyres and refusing congregants entry into the grounds, disrupting the Church’s regular Friday night service.
The South Africans are reportedly accusing Bushiri and his church of indifference, carelessness, disregard of human dignity and cover up attempts as regards the deaths.
Allegations have been rife that ECG wanted to cover up the deaths that instead of informing the police and waiting for it to carry out preliminary investigations, the ECG moved the dead bodies to a private mortuary.
“Initially, only three people were reported to have died but it was later learnt that a total of four people had died. The police informed the media that it only learnt about the incident, a day after, Saturday, 29 December, 2018.
“The South African police has since opened a case of defeating the ends of justice and interfering with investigations against Bushiri and ECG,” the report said.
And www.tidbitmw.com reports that Mashishi was on SABC News at the site, where he said: “As SANCO around the area of Tshwane, we have been complaining about bogus churches and their prophets to say Churches Council need to make sure that they regulate these churches.
“Apparently there was some incident on the 28th where our brothers and sisters died in this area. Surprisingly, instead of the very same Prophet Bushiri to follow the right processes of making sure that you call the police so that the police can come and check the cause of death on the stampede that happened here, he didn’t do so.
“He took the law in his own hands and removed and took them to the different area where it’s unknown to the family. Currently, the deceased are missing, today the fourth person that has been dead, was identified in Sozorino Mortuary, of which that is very disturbing to us and we are appealing to South Africa, the President, the City of Tshwane as well to make sure that immediately, Bushiri must come here overnight, so that he can be able to terminate this contract here with immediate effect.
Apparently, this new development is the usual case of jealous and envy on Bushiri, who is also a successful multi-millionaire businessman because Mashishi, who doesn’t seem to realize that Bushiri is Malawian by referring him as Nigerian, alluded that the foreign preachers are making a lot of money in that country.
“…They must go back to Nigeria and make money there. So, we are not going to allow him any longer because enough is enough. We cannot lose our loved ones [to] die like animals.”
Mashishi is asking Bushiri to make a public apology than just taking it as business as usual.
According to reports, the South African Police believe that members of the congregation may have pushed each other as they panicked over a thunderstorm, leading to the stampede.
When contacted on Saturday, Bushiri’s spokesperson Ephraim Nyondo did not respond to our questionnaire despite several reminders and his confirmation that he had indeed received the questions.
Maravi Express wanted to know why ECG decided not to inform the police and waiting for it to carry out preliminary investigations but instead moved the dead bodies to a private mortuary.
He was also asked to confirm if it is true that the South African police has since opened a case of defeating the ends of justice and interfering with investigations against Bushiri and ECG.
But Nyondo is quoted by a Malawian media online, Nyasa Times as saying: “What happened at ECG on Friday was an unfortunate incident that none has control upon. The church is working with the police to ensure that everything is addressed to the letter.
“So far we have never had any issue with the police. We will remain steadfast in working with the police and relevant offices so that all matters are addressed.”
Nyondo is further quoted as saying ECG understands that the protests are not coming from well-meaning South Africans.
“We understand there are some church leaders who still feel Prophet Bushiri’s church stole people from their churches and that there ministries are falling because of Prophet Bushiri. We know that they are using this incident to spew their anger us Prophet Bushiri,” Nyondo is quoted as saying by Nyasa Times.