Leaders of other Zion churches in KwaZulu-Natal have distanced themselves from a call made by Bishop Bheki Ngcobo for congregants to go in their numbers on the annual Easter pilgrimage.

Ngcobo’s statement defied President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ban on gatherings of more than 100 people to contain the spread of COVID-19.

Norman Mkhize of the Nyonini Mission in Madadeni in Newcastle and Pastor Mumtuza Majola of the Unity Church in Ntuzuma say they fully support the government’s measures.

“As Nyonini Mission we took a resolution to abide by the President’s decision, as the Bible tells us to respect the rulers. We will follow all the precautions made by the President. Ngcobo is not representing our views. This is not the time for argument. It’s not a time that everyone must come forward and raise a point or try to explain what government is saying. We as leaders we have to support and protect the lives of the South African people. As the Zionist we are totally against what Mr Bheki Ngcobo is saying that he is talking on behalf of the Zionist. He is pushing his mandate or politics. As the church of the Zionist we are against that, we are saying we are not the part of that,” says Mkhize.

Meanwhile, as churches scale down services due to the coronavirus, some are taking advantage of technology  to reach their members

Government has issued guidelines prohibiting public gatherings of more than 100 people at a time.

Tshepo Phagane visited Soweto to check how churches are dealing with the new regulations; what measures they’ve put in place to deal with the virus, and how they ensure they keep worshipping with the cancellation of some services.

In the video below, Bishop Ngcobo says this is a time for prayer:

He found it was an unusual day of worship at most churches in Soweto with fewer members than usual. In some churches, members had to be turned away in order to adhere to the guidelines announced by the President, one of which prohibits public gatherings of more than 100 people at a time.

A pastor from the Life-Changing Ministries in Meadowlands, who prefers anonymity, says it was one of the most difficult decisions he had to make.

“It is very difficult in a way that it is like you taking away something that someone lives and to say you can’t worship God anymore because of this. It’s painful. I turned away a lot of people today. I would say today the maximum is 90,” says the pastor.

In this video, church leaders enforce measures against coronavirus: