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Msimanga grilled over compliance for Bushiri church days after stampede

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Msimanga grilled over compliance for Bushiri church days after stampede
Shepherd Bushiri’s church was granted a compliance certificate by the City of Tshwane just days after a fatal stampede.
Image: Nonkululeko Njilo
Details of how Shepherd Bushiri’s church was given permission to host an event just a few days after a fatal stampede took centre stage at a hearing into the deaths on Tuesday.

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The hearing is being hosted by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (known as the CRL Rights Commission).

The City of Tshwane’s joint operations committee (JOC) gave the church a certificate of compliance for a “Cross Over” event in December. This certificate was at the centre of a debate on whether the church was actually eligible to get the green light from the municipality.

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The certificate, which was presented at the hearing, shows that compliance was applied for by the church on December 31 and approved by the committee on the same day.
Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga viewed this process as flawed. He explained that when an application was made for a certificate of compliance, a JOC meeting was convened where the applicant was invited. This process, he said, was followed by an assessment of the venue, before a plan was drawn up for the day of the event.

Msimanga told the hearing that as “there are a whole lot of stakeholders involved”, one cannot apply for compliance for an event on the day it is due to take place, particularly on the last day of the year.

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“You wouldn’t have had a committee meeting that would have taken place on December 31. Senior personnel would have had to meet. The meeting doesn’t take place over 15 minutes,” he said.

Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva told Msimanga that someone from the committee had issued the certificate of compliance even though there had been an incident at the church.
“It [the certificate] was issued after the incident on December 28. On January 11, you say there must be an investigation of compliance, whereas you didn’t ask for an investigation to happen after December 28,” said Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.

She said it was strange that the JOC had not picked up that a disaster had taken place at the church as it had been widely reported. “Our worry is [that] there was this incident that happened. What guarantees were there that the incident that happened on December 28 wouldn’t happen again?” she asked.

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She said it was worrying that the church was granted the certificate without proper procedure being followed.

Msimanga told the hearing that he was not aware about the certificate that was issued on December 31. He said he was only told that the certificate the church had obtained would cover events from December 1 until December 30.

“There is nothing that speaks about what happened on December 31,” he said.

Msimanga said the person whose signature appeared on the certificate should be called to answer. “Perhaps someone has to explain,” he said.

The hearing continues.

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