Funerals, weddings banned

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A ban on weddings and funerals on Saturdays is upsetting residents of KwaZulu-Natal.

Community members of Eshowe and Gingindlovu said Saturday is a day of worship for the Shembe church to which IFP leader inkosi Mpiyezintombi Mzimela belongs. They said those who defied the order were slapped with huge fines and are appealing to IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi to "free" them.

Shembe church spokesman Mhlephila Mthethwa said: "It is not compulsory that people who are not church members observe Saturdays and I don't think inkosi Mzimela would force this simply because he is a member."

A community member, who feared intimidation, said: "It has been the toughest eight years of our lives. We have been treated like people from another planet, with no rights or privileges.

"People are helpless and scared of challenging him."

Mzimela said: "I have never denied people practising their ceremonies on Saturdays. They know the proper channels to follow."

The KwaZulu-Natal cabinet said that if the allegations were true, it would have to intervene.

"Our Constitution guarantees religious freedom. But it should not impinge on the rights of others."