Christian Leaders “deeply disappointed” by Closure of Places of Worship in South Africa

KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council logo. Credit: KZNCC

The leadership of Kwazulu-Natal Christian Council (KZNCC) in South Africa has, in a statement, faulted the South African government for ordering closure of places of worship saying churches have all along been observing strict COVID-19 containment measures in their services.

“We are deeply disappointed by the government’s latest pronouncement that churches must remain closed,” representatives of KZNCC say in their Monday, July 12 statement, and add, “We object in the strongest terms the continued closure of churches given rigorous safety precautions we are committed to operating under.”

On Sunday, July 11, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a continued level 4 lockdown in the Southern African nation owing to the rise in COVID-19 infections in most of the country’s provinces.

In his address, the South African President said all religious and political gatherings remain suspended for the next two weeks.

According to KZNCC representatives, church leaders have been partnering with the government in all its initiatives to fight the infection and spread of the virus in the Eastern South African Province.


“The church has been supportive and highly cooperative of government’s restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic and our commitment has been, and remains to be, to protect the people from the spread of the virus,” add the KZNCC officials.

The representatives of the church forum that is chaired by immediate former Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Durban, Wilfred Cardinal Napier, further note the ironic use of places of worship across the country in handling COVID-19 related encounters, which, to them, bring together more people than the suspended gatherings for worship.

“It is contradicting that the government is using some churches to carry out vaccination services serving hundreds of people but then not being allowed to open as places of worship and other types of services to our communities,” they observe.

Churches in the South African Province have suffered great financial constraints and cannot run their operations due to their continued closure, KZNCC representatives say, noting that church services to members of the community are vital for day-to-day life among people.

“The current restrictions have severely hampered the church’s financial sustainability as well as our ability to perform multiple roles in the lives of individuals and communities,” the church leaders say.

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Our roles, the Christian leaders say, “include but are not limited to spirituality, community development, community safety and protection, peacekeeping, medical care and psycho-social support for those who have been affected by the pandemic.”

The KZNCC representatives have now want government authorities in the Eastern South African Province to allow places of worship to operate with at least half their capacities so that services are offered to congregants.

“In order to continue offering these essential services at this critical moment in our province, we need at least 50 percent capacity in our churches,” they say.

KZNCC representatives add, “As the provincial council of churches, we commit to establish guidelines and rigorous self-regulation processes, through our existing ecumenical structures to ensure that safety measures are adhered to.”