PRETORIA – The family of ECG congregant Matshila Sarah Mohlala, one of three who died in a December stampede, said they had turned down offers to meet the charismatic preacher Shepherd Bushiri because of safety concerns.
Deborah Letsoalo, daughter of staunch Bushiri follower Mohlala requested the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) to arrange a meeting with the self-proclaimed prophet.
The CRL Rights Commission is mediating between Bushiri’s ECG and the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco).
"We do give you the permission to facilitate that [meeting] because he [ECG church attorney Terrence Howard] called me and said they wanted to meet with us," Letsoalo told the commission, adding that she did not trust the ECG church.
"I need to meet them around people who I can trust. I’m told that this hearing is live [on news channels]. At least I’m safe," Letsoalo said.
She said the family had several unanswered questions for Bushiri about the stampede, including why the church service continued all night after the stampede.
"After the accident, you cleared the scene, took them away like pieces of trash, and continued with your service then you call yourself a man of God?
"My mother loved that church. She believed in Bushiri. We are still asking, what happened?"
Letsoalo told the Commission how she struggled to find her mother’s body after the stampede.
Three women died and at least 17 other congregants were injured after a stampede at the ECG in December when they ran for shelter during a heavy rainstorm.
The deceased women were Mohlala, Patricia Pringane and Lehlogahlo Maria Segodi. In the aftermath, Sanco led street protests at ECG, calling for the church to be expelled from the Pretoria showgrounds.
Leaders of civil rights movement #NotInMyNameSA attended the CRL Rights Commission’s hearing on Monday.
Earlier on Monday, Bushiri apologised for the deadly stampede.
"As a church we took full responsibility and we are comforted and encouraged by the level of support from South Africans from different parts of the divide," Bushiri said.
African News Agency (ANA)