Joburg court orders church to stop unlawful operations


A Johannesburg woman, battling to reconcile her calling as a sangoma with her faith as a Christian, has documented her struggle in a new book, titled 'Voices of Jesus and Ancestors'

JOHANNESBURG – The High Court in Johannesburg ordered a pastor on Wednesday to stop unlawfully operating his Yeoville-based church out of a house, Mayor Herman Mashaba said.

“I am happy to announce that the South Gauteng High Court ordered Selvan Crole Marcelle, also known as Pastor Elijah Tenkwee, to cease unlawfully operating his Yeoville-based church at once. This follows numerous complaints by the community,” Mashaba said in a statement.

“The church operated in contravention of city by-laws relating to building and land use. News of the church’s illegal operation was brought to the city’s Building Development Management Department (BDM) in November 2016.”

READ: Ramaphosa visits Shembe Church

On Wednesday, the court interdicted Marcella from using the property for any purpose other than a residential dwelling, and ordered that the property may not be used as a place of worship, Mashaba said.

The court also ordered him to remove all property, materials and equipment used for church, and to rehabilitate the property back to a residential dwelling.

“Should Mr Marcella fail to comply with the court’s order within 30 days, the Sheriff of the Court will be empowered to enforce the orders.”

Mashaba said that he was invited to a meeting organised by Yeoville resident in March, along with Development Planning MMC Funzela Ngobeni.

He said that they inspected several alleged illegal churches in the area and discovered that they were operating in residential dwellings.

"In respect of Mr Marcelle’s church, additions and alterations had been made to the dwelling without approval from the city. Furthermore, the operations of the church often resulted in loud music being played into the early hours of the morning – disturbing the peace of residents in the area,” he said.

Marcelle was served with contravention notices to stop all activities and a final notice but continued to operate his church.

“While the city believes in promoting and protecting the religious practices of all our residents, such cannot come at the expense of the rule of law within the city.”

Mashaba said that as part of a plan to revitalise the inner city, R31-million was allocated for 1,500 more Johannesburg Metro Police Department officers who would enhance visible policing within Johannesburg.

“Today’s court ruling is a victory for the community of Yeoville, and indeed, the rule of law in our city,” Mashaba said.