The Methodist Church has cancelled Good Friday and Easter Sunday services to combat the spread of the Coronavirus and the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has cancelled Friday prayer.
In addition, the Zion Christian Church (ZCC) has cancelled its annual Moria pilgrimage.
Speaking on Thursday during a meeting with leaders of diverse communities of faith to reinforce the national response to the COVID-19 outbreak, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the announcements were no doubt reached through great difficulty.
“During April, millions of our people traditionally make their way to various domestic locations for religious pilgrimages or visit holy sites abroad, as our Muslim brothers and sisters do to Mecca to perform the umrah.
“As government we wholly appreciate the challenges this presents on a number of fronts,” said President Ramaphosa.
At the meeting, which took place at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse, Tshwane, the President expressed his appreciation to religious leaders for their cooperation in fighting the scourge of the outbreak.
“This is something we keenly appreciate. As religious leaders, you have shown your support for the national effort, and we thank you for this,” said the President.
On Sunday, the President declared a national state of disaster in response to the outbreak of the Coronavirus.
The President limited the size of public gatherings to no more than 100 people to ensure that there is containment of the coronavirus which can be transmitted from one person to another, with even the most limited contact.
On Wednesday, South Africa tipped over the 100 positive cases mark and recorded a 116 confirmed Coronavirus cases.
The President further called on religious leaders to make use of their platforms and reach, to educate and inform communities about the Coronavirus.
“I want to call on you to extend your cooperation with us as government in reducing the impact of the coronavirus across all sectors of society. Millions of South Africans are at risk of contracting coronavirus not just in places of worship, but in buses and taxis, in the workplace, and even in their homes.
“This risk is greater in poor communities, many of which do not have access to safe and clean drinking water, and who are forced by circumstances to live in close proximity to others,” he said.
With religious leaders forming part of the cornerstone of society and presiding over funerals, the President urged them to drive home the message that while sensitive and difficult to manage, no event is exempt from the regulations, including funerals.
“It is also necessary to clarify that the regulations around gatherings over 100 people also apply to funerals, over which our religious leaders preside.
“We call upon you to engage with bereaved families in the preparatory stages to impress upon them to confine the burial congregation to only close family wherever possible,” said the President.
The President further highlighted that given the high prevalence of HIV, Aids and Tuberculosis in the country, COVID-19 could have a devastating impact on society.
"The Thuma Mina moment is upon us, perhaps as never before. Let us keep the nation’s spirits up and remind them that we are doing everything within our means to keep them safe.
“We are in this together, and it is by working together that we will prevail. We are, and forever will remain, our brother’s and sister’s keeper,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za