Churches flout lockdown rules
SOME churches in Victoria Falls have been openly conducting services in apparent defiance of the national lockdown regulations.
Government imposed a national lockdown on March 30 and church gatherings remain barred as part of measures to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19.
Investigations by Chronicle showed that members of the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) have been gathering at their leader Elder Rangarirai Sendama’s house in Mkhosana suburb.
On Monday evening there were about 20 people who were praying close to each other while on Wednesday and yesterday morning there were between 10 and 15 people when the news crew passed.
Upon arrival at the house yesterday, the news crew was sprinkled with some “holy water” on the face and back by Elder Sendama as part of the church’s tradition for one to be allowed into the premises.
There was no facility for washing hands or a sanitiser so that anyone who visits could sanitise as part of Covid-19 preventive measures.
Elder Sendama was serving tea to people who were at the premises when the news crew arrived.
In an interview, Elder Sendama who leads the ZCC Mkhosana branch said they were not conducting church services but only attending to those in need of prayer.
“We can’t exactly say how many people are coming here because they come at different times.
“These are people coming with different problems especially the sick who want to be prayed for. They include church and community members,” said Elder Sendama.
“We once discussed with police who advised us to ensure that social distancing is observed and not to keep people here which is what we are doing.
“We have raised awareness and our members bring their own sanitisers while we sometimes help visitors to wash their hands.”
The church has two branches in Victoria Falls and the Mkhosana branch has about 150 members who attend services at Elder Sendama’s house, located about 400 metres from Mkhosana police base.
Concerns have also been raised by some residents through the resident’s association about some denominations that have been conducting church services.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said it is illegal for any church to gather.
He said police will investigate the issue.
“That’s illegal for any church to disregard Government position with regards to the national lockdown.
“If there are any who are gathering that should stop as it is in defiance of regulations and we will alert our officers to investigate,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.
He said generally citizens have been complying countrywide.
Combined Victoria Falls Residents Association chairman Mr Morgen Gaza Dube urged residents to comply with regulations.
“It doesn’t matter whether they are meeting to worship or just to pray for the sick.
“The regulations are clear that no social gatherings are allowed.
“We have had reports of other churches and prophets that have been gathering people for prayers.
“We don’t condone that as this is a threat to our community who may be exposed to the virus,” he said.
Recently, 48 members of Christ Apostolic Church Worldwide Revelation in Bulawayo were arrested and fined $500 each after being found worshipping.Chronicle