The National Council of Churches (NCC) has appealed to President Cyril Ramaphosa to allow church gatherings during the less restrictive level 4 of the nationwide lockdown that is currently in place.

The council says it has written to the President requesting him to allow churches to operate the same way schools would be allowed to reopen under the lockdown.

The Department of Basic Education has proposed that the reopening of schools be done in phases, starting with Grades 7 and 12 from June.

President of the Council, Dr Monokoane Hlobo, says the church has a role to play during this time.

“The church should actually play a role in the present situation. You have people who need to be counseled on their problems, particularly with regards to gender-based violence and the church has a role to pray for the healing of the land so that that is why we are actually saying the President should actually allow the church to start to operate gradually. What we are saying is that if a grade 12 or grade 7 learner is trusted to go to school, government should also trust the church people to go back to the church.”

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South Africa currently has 9 420 COVID-19 infections and 186 deaths. Cooperative Governance Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has urged South Africans to continue to adhere to regulations that are in place as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

The Minister has warned that failure to do so could force the country back to the stringent level 5 lockdown.

Social distancing and the avoidance of crowded spaces are some of the precautionary measures that authorities are encouraging.