Churches defy govt ban on public gatherings

HARARE - Several churches in Harare yesterday defied a government ban on public gatherings and continued worshiping in the face of a stepped-up campaign to prevent the spread of cholera. 

This comes after police issued a ban on all public gatherings and illegal food vending to control the spread of cholera, which has killed over 30 people in the capital, Harare.

Police spokesperson assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday declined to comment why the ban was not being enforced on churches, referring the matter to Harare City Council (HCC), saying ZRP had concluded the issue already.

HCC corporate communications manager Michael Chideme also declined to comment.

“If you know that the police banned public gatherings, contact the police and not council,” Chideme told the Daily News.

This comes as police have been brutally bashing street vendors in the Harare CBD as a way of enforcing the ban.

Nyathi last week advised that churches were also included in the ban, but those wishing to hold public meetings should get clearance from health inspectors or police.

Various churches, however, without police clearance, proceeded with their Sunday services.

A snap survey conducted by the Daily News crew showed that churches which proceeded with their normal Sunday services include Walter Magaya’s Prophetic, Healing and Deliverance Ministries (PHD), Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Family International Church and Johanne Masowe Yechishanu among others.

Speaking to the Daily News crew yesterday, Johanne Masowe Yechishanhu elder Philip Makasu said his sect adheres to laws and regulations formulated by authorities but when it comes to conducting their services, they only take orders from the Holy Spirit.

“Our services are structured in such a way that we only listen to the command of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. If God doesn’t tell us to stop our services, then we do not,” Makasu told the Daily News.

He claimed that amid this cholera outbreak, their church members prayed and received blessings against diseases from the Holy ghost, and were religiously immunised from cholera.

Cholera itself causes diarrhoea and vomiting, leading to severe dehydration.

It can kill quickly but is treated easily through rehydration and antibiotics.

It is an intestinal infection caused by bacteria transmitted through contaminated water or food.

The source of contamination is usually faeces of infected people.


 

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