The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) has cleared Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG) leader Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his church of any wrongdoing in the December 28 stampede which led to the death of three people.
Speaking at the FRI Headquarters in Braamfontein, the CRL presented the findings of their Section 7 Investigation into the deadly stampede, compliance issues, as well the protests by the South African National Civiv Organisation.
According to the CRL investigation, Prophet Bushiri and his church complied with regulations prior to the holding the service on the 28th and the church has been compliant despite media reports to the contrary.
During the investigation, the CRL requested that the ECG Church furnish it with documentary evidence in relation to the compliance applications made, to the City of Tshwane, by the Church.
“The ECG Church sent the compliance certificates as issued by JOC. Included among those certificates were the following:
Certificate of compliance with serial number 5298 for 01 December 2018 to 30 December 2018; and Certificate of compliance with serial number 5340 for 31 December 2018
The City of Tshwane JOC Co-Chairperson of JOC confirmed these documents as authentic and having been issued by JOC,” said the CRL
In the aftermath of the event, there had been calls led by SA National Civic Organisation (SANCO) for Prophet Bushiri to leave South Africa. The CRL Commission described stance as discriminatory.
“The expressions and demands that Prophet Bushiri must leave the country are discriminatory;Any issue pertaining to immigration must be dealt with under the Immigration Act of 2002 and must be addressed with the Department of Home Affairs as the administrative department,” said the commission in its findings.
Although they were yet to access the full report, Prophet Bushiri’s media team exclusively told the Mail and Telegraph that they never expected a different outcome.
“We have always maintained from the very first say that we are a compliant church, a lawful people, and an honest organisation. We are happy that this section 7 investigation has found that our hands were clean.
“We however want to stress that we are still heartbroken about our members who died. It is sad that while we were mourning we became subject of unfair treatment and attacks.
“We are glad that the world now knows the truth. We are vindicated but the pain and damage is done,” said Bushiri’s spokesperson Maynard Manyowa
In its main findings, the CRL noted the following:
The CRL found that the ECG was compliant according to the laws and by-laws of South Africa on 28 December.
The CRL found that the City of Tshwane and the South African Police service ought to have been present on 28 December, and thus failed to comply with the events act
The CRL found that the statement by the Mayor claiming the ECG was not compliant was wrong, and false.
The statement by the mayor was found by the CRL to be damaging and inciting.
The CRL Commission recommended that the city treat all citizens fairly, even when put under pressure.