Reverend, followers arrested over Easter Sunday service
POLICE in Bulawayo yesterday arrested congregants of the Revival of Jesus Miracles Ministries in Nketa suburb for conducting public services in violation of lockdown regulations, as most churches resorted to conducting virtual services in compliance with the ban on public gatherings.
Nine congregants were arrested yesterday morning shortly after the church service and taken to Tshabalala Police Station where they each paid $500 admission of guilt fines.
When Chronicle visited the police station, congregants were being taken out of the cells where they had been detained to pay fines at the charge office.
Reverend Thompson Nyathi defended his congregants, arguing that their arrest was illegal as “we maintained hygienic standards and practised social distancing during the entire service. We are fully aware of the proclamation by the President of a total lockdown and ban on public gatherings, but we believe the raid was unlawful as our gathering had less than 30 people, some of whom were arrested after the service. Everyone had their hands sanitised in line with Ministry of Health and Child Care guidelines and regulations,” he said.
Before the announcement that left only a few essential services running, most churches had already announced the cancellation of services.
Several churches in Zimbabwe this year cancelled their traditional Easter retreats and resorted to live streaming their services during the 21-day lockdown.
Easter, also called Pascha (Greek, Latin) or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday when Christians will be commemorating the death and resurrection of Jesus, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial following his crucifixion by the Romans at Calvary.
The cancellation of Easter church meetings follows a directive by President Mnangagwa banning gatherings and declaring the lockdown as a precautionary measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.The Chronicle