An unholy war has erupted between parliament and a Soweto church over “high levels” of noise that are supposedly being created during worship. Members of parliament flew from Cape Town to Gauteng this week.
Their aim was to conduct hearings on a complaint they had received about a “high level of noise” allegedly produced by members of the Unity Fellowship Church in Chiawelo. But this angered the church’s members, who accused the MPs of wasting state resources to address a “flimsy issue”.
The Unity Fellowship Church argued there were several churches built in the area, as well as taverns and mosques. They said no one had ever lodged a complaint against them, despite the extreme level of noise produced during their religious practices.
Church director Dr Theophilus Mukhubu said: “We don’t understand why parliament would move from its lofty place of governance to investigate a noise level complaint. It is very irregular and strange that they leave matters of parliament to come and address a noise level problem.”
He said no religious structure operated in silence when practicing its religion. “You find that one or 10 people may not like our forms of worship and call it ‘making noise’. Really, that is unreasonable.” Mukhubu said the church, built in an industrial zone, was granted permission by the municipality to build there.
“The city cannot punish us by demolishing our church simply on the pretext of enforcing by-laws,” said Mukhubu. Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces’ select committee on petitions and executive undertakings Kgosi Setlamorago Thobejane yesterday said parliament received a complaint from petitioners.
He said the complainants had exhausted “all avenues” at local and provincial level. Thobejane said the committee would make a ruling based on the presentations by all the relevant parties. Meanwhile, congregants became hot under the collar. They alleged a Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department officer had manhandled Mukhubu.
This led to them preventing the authorities from leaving the church premises yesterday.
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