-The Johannesburg Metro Police Department has shut down 16 illegal churches this year alone
- The department has forged a partnership with church leadership to raise awareness on the region's laws
- Authorities are adamant that not even faith-based entities are above the law in Mzansi
16 churches have been closed down by JMPD since the beginning of 2019 for not heeding city by-laws.
eNCA reports that JMPD boss David Tembe commented on the clampdown operations, saying that:
“The Johannesburg Metro Police will never allow such churches to operate in the city ... rogue churches, they will never be allowed."
Law enforcement authorities have now joined hands with faith-based organisations to raise awareness about the laws that govern them.
Bishop Mosa Sono from Grace Bible Church formed a forum to guide churches on correct conduct, with Sono emphasising that no one and no church is above the law.
Briefly.co.za reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa had answered the outcry over dodgy institutions:
"We are now given an opportunity to engage faith-based organisations on how can we work together to ensure we rid our country of bogus religious leaders who are taking our people for a ride, who are doing things that are so shocking and hoodwink people into believing they raised someone from the dead."
While Ramaphosa indicated that a clampdown would occur, he highlighted the importance of the state not interfering too much in spiritual matters:
"If we just go overboard and start regulating churches and religions, we will have a backlash because faith-based organisations will say the government is beginning to regulate in such a way that is not constitutional."
Religious leaders had approached the president following repeated instances of pastors' inappropriate conduct and even some deaths.
A stampede at Prophet Bushiri's Enlightened Christian Gathering Church had resulted in the tragic deaths of three women when a storm had sparked panic.
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