News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
1 minute read
5 Nov 2018
6:27 am

Tshwane municipality attempts to evict church tent

Ilse de Lange

The church started occupying the property unlawfully and without consent when they erected a tent from which they conducted services.

The Tshwane municipality has started with eviction proceedings against an orthodox Jewish church, which has been holding church services in a tent on municipal land in Pretoria West since 2016.

The city’s application to evict the Great Assembly of Yahweh Sabbath Ministry from the open piece of municipal land in Elandspoort and to interdict them from occupying it in future was this week removed from the roll in the High Court in Pretoria, but costs were reserved and the battle might continue at a later stage.

The church initially conducted daily services at the Danville home of its founder and “High Priest” Wiseman Okaka but moved to Elandspoort after being given notice to stop using Okaka’s home, as it was not zoned as a place of public worship.

The city also received complaints from Danville residents about the excessive noise, regular sacrificing of animals and the dumping of dead carcasses on Okaka’s property and that residents who tried to report the illegal occupation were threatened.

The city’s litigation director Simon Sithole said in court papers the church started making overtures to the municipality in 2014 to buy or lease the property, but started occupying it unlawfully and without consent early in 2016, when they erected a large canvas tent from which they conducted services.

He said the process of bringing the property onto the commercial market was extremely detailed and cumbersome, and required approval from the municipal council to open the property to tenders.

– ilsed@citizen.co.za

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