WATCH: Bushiri has taken responsibility, says church
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WATCH: Bushiri has taken responsibility, says church

The Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG), led by Prophet Shepard Bushiri, has suspended its Pretoria branch resident pastor and two security personnel at Bushiri’s recommendation.

 

ECG Church
Gaopalelwe Phalaetsile

Three women, who were members of the church, were killed during a service in December and nine others injured. 

 

The women were killed in a stampede when church members were running for cover at the Tshwane Events Centre. 

 

The church held a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday to give an update on the investigation into the tragedy. 

 

“We immediately ceased ourselves with conducting an internal investigation after the tragedy itself and engaged local experts to provide analysis to review the event. No church vehicles or church personnel were involved in transporting the bodies from where they were injured and to where they were certified dead or moving them to a mortuary,” said Bushiri’s spokesperson, Manyard Manyowa. 

 

“The people who we feel acted incompetently and could have done better, and perhaps as an error omission or commission allowed this to happen have been the recipients of disciplinary action.  We have suspended the head resident pastor on the basis of that and other members are temporarily suspended while we continue to review.” 

 

Two of the victims will be buried in Cape Town on Saturday. 

 

The church, which has at least 700 000 members across the country and at least 140 000 in Pretoria, says it’s not owned by Bushiri. 

 

"We appreciate the criticism leveled at us as the church, but we humbly request that Prophet Bushiri is excused in all of those. Those with personal vendettas against him should not use the church as a playground to score a point. The church is a separate entity outside of the prophet and the church will continue to exist outside of him. Where he to engage in activities that are contrary to the values of the church, he will not be immune to the suspension,” said Manyowa. 

 

He said Bushiri has taken responsibility by recommending that those who may be responsible be suspended.

 

The prophet will also be visiting the families of the victims when he returns from Zimbabwe. 

The church’s attorney, Terrance Baloyi, said the church has historically complied with the city’s by-laws on the safety of the venue. 

 

However, an inspection by the city found several irregularities. 

 

In a statement by the city on Friday, it said the escape routes leading to the doors are obstructed, there was insufficient firefighting equipment, no emergency lights no emergency evacuation plan. 

 

Baloyi indicated that they have not engaged with the city directly, as its contract is with the owners of the Tshwane Events Centre. 

 

The city will issue the church with an order to comply, which must be adhered to within 30 days, or the church will have to close its doors. 

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