City official signed off Bushiri's church event

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri.
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri.
Image: Facebook

A City of Tshwane official has admitted to signing off a safety compliance certificate for an event at prophet Shepherd Bushiri's church in Pretoria just days
after three women died in a stampede at the church, but said she had not known about the tragedy.

Lindiwe Lesole, co-chairperson of the joint operations committee in the city, was summonsed to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities yesterday.

The hearing followed calls by a civic organisation for Bushiri's church to be shut down after the stampede.

Lesole was identified as the official who provided Bushiri's church with a second compliance certificate for an event on New Year's Eve, just days after the deaths of the three congregants.

"Nobody disclosed to me that something terrible had happened. I was only told on the 29th [of December] that there were people who were injured," Lesole told the commission.

She said that she was working closely with an unnamed police colonel who did not mention to her that people died on December 28. She said her office did not know because they were on special leave.

Asked why the city allowed for the event on December 28 if she was on special leave, Lesole said "we were all focusing on the event of the 31st".

CRL commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said the city had clearly broken the law by allowing the event on December 28 to take place because they were not present.

"You broke the law in order for you to go on holiday because the law said you have to be there on the day of the event," she said. "The city decides to shut down for two days and during the two days of fun three women died and 19 were injured."

Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga earlier told the commission that the city was not shut down because all services were available. Msimanga had vehemently denied that a certificate for New Year's Eve was granted by the city despite the commission providing the documents.

The mayor said it was impossible for a certificate of compliance to be provided on the day of an event and this would usually be done weeks before.

He said since the incident an investigation had revealed several issues.

He said an inspection of the building found that the escape routes were obstructed, there was insufficient firefighting equipment, no emergency lights, no emergency evacuation plan, improper storage of dangerous goods and no proper seating arrangements.

Msimanga said the event on December 28 was categorised as medium risk and the church had been granted a compliance certificate.

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