South African police use rubber bullets to break up church service

Police in South Africa reportedly fired rubber bullets and stun grenades into a crowd at a church service in what has been called a “indiscriminate shooting of Christians.”

South African media reports that on Jan. 10, police broke up a church service of around 250 people in the community of Sebokeng near Johannesburg. Videos posted online appear to show police shooting wildly at the fleeing crowd.

Other videos appear to one elderly congregants bleeding from an eye injury sustained from the police assault.

Police reportedly arrested the church’s two leaders as well as a female congregant for violating South Africa’s lockdown and defying police.

Under South Africa’s current lockdown measures, religious services and public gatherings of all kinds are banned and the entire country faces a nightly curfew.

South Africa has the highest rates of coronavirus on the continent, with around 1.2 million cases and over 32,000 deaths.

The leader of the opposition African Christian Democratic Party Rev. Kenneth Meshoe told the media that it was absurd that churches are forced to close while non-essential businesses like casinos are still open.

“If churches are able to comply with the same health and hygiene protocols as those in the business sector, why shut them down?”

“Most, if not all, churches have been complying with the health and hygiene regulations, but it appears to us that churches have become a soft target,” he said.

A Gauteng Police Services spokesman defended police action, saying that the gathering was illegal and that they did not begin shooting until the congregation began to oppose the breakup.

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