This meeting was meant to provide a hearing for two petitions: the petition from the Chiawelo Extension 5 residents and the Embrace Dignity petition. However, because of the Parliamentary support staff strike the meeting was adjourned early and the second petition was not heard. The meeting started with the petition from the Chiawelo Extension 5 residents. Stakeholders were given the opportunity to make their submissions. There were supposed to be submissions by the MMC of Development Planning from the City of Johannesburg, presented by Councillor R Greeff; Environmental Health of the City of Johannesburg presented by the Director Mr P Manganyi; and the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department. However, these last three submissions had to be postponed as the meeting was cancelled early, due to the Parliamentary support staff strike. The Chairperson then allowed Members to ask questions to gain clarity on the case at hand.
Chiawelo Extension 5 Petition
Ms T Peele presented the petition. The Office of the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces received this petition on 11 August 2010. The petitioners are the residents of Chiawelo Extension 5. The petition pertains to the noise levels stemming from the regular church services held by the Unity Fellowship Church. The concerned church is constructed in an industrial area located within close proximity to the residential area where the residents reside because there is no clear demarcation between the industrial and residential area in Chiawelo Extension 5.
The petitioners further assert that they were not consulted when the church was constructed. The petitioners also allege that the church building is erected using the walls residents built as part of their yards and that the noise levels during the church services are unbearable as the church makes use of microphones and speakers at maximum sound levels. The petitioners have without success consulted with the church leadership regarding these noise levels. however the church leadership pleads freedom of religious expression and refuses to consider and take into account the concerns of the affected residents.
The petitioners requested that demarcation rules be looked at again to determine if the construction of the church is permitted or lawful in terms of the applicable by-laws or any other relevant legislation.
Dr T Makhuba, the representative for the Unity Fellowship Church, claimed that there had been no proper consultation by the City of Johannesburg when the church was built and as such it had been built in a buffer zone and too close to the houses of some of the residents in Chiawelo Extension 5.
After receiving complaints about the levels of noise being generated by the church, The Johannesburg City Council obtained a court order to demolish the church. The church is in the process of submitting its own petition to the Committee to prevent the church from being demolished.
The Chairperson apologised for the inconveniences people experienced caused by the strike in Parliament. This meeting provided a hearing for two petitions: the petitions from the Chiawelo Extension 5 residents and the Embrace Dignity petition. The meeting would start with the petition from the Chiawelo Extension 5 residents. Representatives were in attendance to provide the Committee with the information that the Committee would use to make the correct decisions on the petitions. It was the job of the Committee to represent the Parliament in South Africa as well as to deal with issues emanating from society, which was why the representatives of the bodies had been invited to make a presentation before the Committee. The petitioner was given the opportunity to make her submission first and to tell the Committee what relief she sought from Parliament.
He asked all the representatives when presenting their submissions, to first tell the Committee who they are and what their position is in the institution that they were representing. He would then allow Members to ask questions to gain clarity on the case at hand. Once the Committee was satisfied that it had all the information it needed to make a decision it would look at all the information and make a decision in its own time. He wanted to clarify this because very often when people presented their cases to the Committee, they expected the Committee to make a decision on the case immediately. The representatives of the different parties were there to provide the Committee with information that will allow it to make a well-informed decision. This Committee is meant to help resolve issues that cause tension between different parties. If anyone had an issue with other people or organisations and they wanted some kind of intervention, they could appeal to the Committee. The National Council of Provinces is there to deal with all issues emanating from society. It was in that context that the Committee had received a complaint from the residents of Chiawelo Extension 5. He asked Ms Peele to be prepared to present her submission to the Committee.
Dr T Makhuba, husband of the minister of Unity Church Fellowship, said he was there to represent his wife and the church. The Johannesburg City Council had obtained a court order to demolish the church, which the church management had not been served with. As much as it would be very interesting to hear all submissions on the matter the matter could not in fact be discussed in Parliament as it is currently in court.
The Chairperson said that he was sure that the church knows that Parliament is just one area of the State. When a matter is before Parliament, in executing its responsibility, Parliament assumes that its decision will not be included in the court’s understanding of the case. At no stage would the Committee attempt to review the decision of the court. The Committee operates from a different perspective to the court, without tampering with the decision of the court. There have been scenarios where courts have taken a decision on a certain matter but people continued to come to the Committee to ask them to assist them in the matter. From Parliament’s side, even when a matter is in court, the Committee will continue to deal with it if it has an opportunity to provide a conclusion to the matter. He still wanted the Committee to hear what all the parties had to say on the matter and what relief Ms Peele wanted Parliament to provide her with. Ms Peele’s explanation of her side of the case helps the Committee to reach an understanding as to what she wants the Parliament to provide her with as relief. However, the Committee does not in any way review findings, or appeal what the court has done.
Ms C Numaio, an affected member of the Unity Fellowship Church congregation said that the church had been waiting for the opportunity to present their side of the story to the Committee, but had waited so long that the matter had now been submitted to court. Parliament could not deliberate on matters that were currently in court as any information that was revealed in the meeting could be used as evidence in court.
The Chairperson replied that as much as documents of Parliament become public documents, it is not correct that the courts can request discussions in Parliament to become evidence in a court case. In the same way that Parliament could not call the courts to ask them how they arrived at a particular decision, the court could not call Parliament and ask what happened in Parliament regarding a particular matter. The Committee had its own time schedules and could not avoid doing its work because the time scheduled for a particular hearing coincided with when a particular matter was in court. He asked the representatives of the different parties to allow the Committee to continue with the hearing and arrive at a decision on the matter.
Mr N Mbengu introduced himself as an affected member of the Unity Fellowship Church. He said the church had not been given the opportunity to appear before the Committee before and had not even been properly informed as to how they should present their submission and this amounted to sabotage of the church. The Committee needed to question whether it had processed the petition correctly. It was the Committee’s responsibility to ensure that it administered justice to all individuals concerned in the case. Mr Mbengu had had to pay for transport in order to appear before the Committee. As much as the Committee said it wanted to administer justice, he was under the impression that the City was benefiting from the Committee’s favouritism. He also believed that the Committee was showing favouritism by having made arrangements for the petitioner to come to Parliament.
The Chairperson replied that Mr Mbengu’s concern had been noted but that things were not running as they normally would, for which he apologised, but added that many of the problems were beyond his control as they were due to the strike in Parliament. Transportation and accommodation of those appearing before the Committee had not been arranged. Ordinarily, when people were invited to appear before the Committee and they had to come from outside the Province, Parliament takes the responsibility to accommodate and transport them. There had been many administrative and logistical hiccoughs because of the strike, but it would be noted that those appearing in the meeting that day had had to arrange their own transport and accommodation.
Mr Mbengu said the Chairperson must make a note that Unity Fellowship church was not being offered an opportunity to reply to Ms Peele’s claims.
The Chairperson said the Committee would allow Ms Peele to finish her submission and that it would then afford the church an opportunity to make its submission.
Chiawelo Extension 5 submission
Ms T Peele, representing the Chiawelo Extension 5 Petition, said the residents of Chiawelo Extension 5 had had two meetings with the Committee and that there had been no significant or positive result after the first hearing with the Committee. The petition that the residents had started in 2009 was based on the fact that there is no proper demarcation between the industrial site and the residential site in Chiawelo Extension 5 and that they had spoken to the church management and asked them to reduce the noise level, which the church management was not prepared to do.
Dr Makhuba tried to interject.
The Chairperson told him that only Members of Parliament were allowed to interject in a submission and that the church would be given an opportunity to correct and statements made by Ms Peele.
Ms T Peele continued. The Office of the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces received this petition on 11 August 2010. The petitioners are the residents of Chiawelo Extension 5. The petition pertains to the noise levels stemming from the regular church services held by the Unity Fellowship Church. The concerned church is constructed in an industrial area located within close proximity to the residential area where the residents reside because there is no clear demarcation between the industrial and residential area in Chiawelo Extension 5.
The petitioners further assert that they were not consulted when the church was constructed. The petitioners also allege that the church building is erected using the walls residents built as part of their yards and that the noise levels during the church services are unbearable as the church makes use of microphones and speakers at maximum sound levels. The petitioners have without success consulted with the church leadership regarding these noise levels however the church leadership pleads freedom of religious expression and refuses to consider and take into account the concerns of the affected residents.
The petitioners requested that demarcation rules be looked at again to determine if the construction of the church is permitted or lawful in terms of the applicable by-laws or any other relevant legislation.
The residents had a meeting with the church management on the church premises. In that meeting the residents requested that the noise level is reduced. The church responded that the people had a right to religion as stated in the Constitution and that no one had the right to tell them how to worship. That was when the residents had decided to petition. Even though the residents had not received a positive or significant result from the first hearing in Parliament, they had pursued their complaint continuously.
Her family’s lives had been a living hell for a solid six years as they live with this noise from the church in their ears; they even sleep with this noise from the church in their ears. Sometimes there are services as early as 9:00 am and services sometimes only end at about 19:00 pm. On Wednesdays there is a service that continues until 22:00 hours. On Sundays the noise used to begin at 7:00 am and go on until 15:30 or 16:00 hours. There is no board outside the church informing the public of the times of services. On Sundays her family is awakened by the sound of someone with a microphone shouting, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, praise the Lord”. Her family wanted to be able to relax when at home. She wakes at 5:00 am every morning during the week to go to work and therefore wanted to be able to relax on weekends.
She and her children cannot study because of the noise that the church generates. It is not good for her family’s health to be constantly disturbed by the noise that the church generates. At the end of March cameras were installed on the church premises but they focus on the residents’ houses. She and her neighbour reported the matter to the Moroko police station. The Colonel at the station told her that they would go and find out what was going on with the cameras.
It is difficult to enter the church premises, as there is a locked gate at the entrance. The Colonel had driven up to the gate and told the security guard that he needed to see the person in charge. The Colonel told them that he and Ms Peele were there to ask about the cameras that are focusing on the neighbours’ homes. The church told him that he needed a court order to come onto the church premises, knowing that the residents are poor and cannot afford a lawyer to get a court order. She had tried to get a court order but had not managed to. The police then left the church and dropped Ms Peele off at home. A friend had been waiting at her house for her to whom she had related the whole story. As Ms Peele had walked her friend home, they saw a mob of people coming towards them. Her friend said that they should go into the neighbour’s yard when she saw the mob approaching. Ms Peele and her friend started to walk towards her neighbour’s yard but before they could go in the gate the mob had reached them and prevented them from doing so. Mr Makhuba and Mrs Makhuba had led the mob. The mob prevented them from entering the yard and said that they had seen Ms Peele on camera throwing cigarette stumps into the church premises. She told them that she doesn’t smoke and that she wants to see the camera footage evidence. The mob started mocking her saying that there were only two of them now, and asked where her friends were and where her police were. Someone from the mob assaulted her and others had pulled her hair. She phoned the Colonel and told him what had happened. He said they should go to the police station to open a case of assault.
The investigating officer took two or three weeks to contact Ms Peele after she had opened a case. When she met with the investigating officer she was told that her case has no substance because she did not see who assaulted her and who had pulled her hair and because her witnesses’ statements were in conflict. But Ms Peele said that if a mob is doing something wrong then the leaders of the mob should be interrogated to find out what their intentions were. She thought it was not legitimate that schoolchildren from some of the high schools in Chiawelo had signed the church’s petition. People who do not reside in that area should not be allowed to sign that petition. It is the residents of Chiawelo Extension 5 that must sign that petition, not people who live outside that area.
Ms Peele said that the Environmental Health Practioners came back to her and said that they needed to get a police escort before they could measure the noise levels on the church premises as they did not feel safe as someone from the church had told them that they should leave for their own safety. They were therefore not able to continue measuring the noise levels.
The following month her family had not been able to sleep as the church had held an all night prayer meeting. She asserted that there is still oppression in South Africa - which is supposed to be a democratic country - as the residents of Chiawelo Extension 5 are being oppressed and are suffering.
Ms Peele said she also had photographs of the cameras that were focused on her property. One of these is focused on the back room of her house. She cannot open the curtains or the windows in the back room because this camera is focused on the room. There are many cameras that are focused on her property, some of them are hidden inside lights and there is at least one that is attached to a tall pole that overlooks the whole property. All these cameras invade her family’s privacy.
The Chairperson asked Ms Peele what relief she was expecting Parliament to provide her with. He also asked her whom else she has reported the matter to, other than the Johannesburg Metro police.
Ms Peele named various political parties that she had contacted, including the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters. She had emailed Parliament and also made a submission to the Moroka police station, the Environmental Health Agency and the City of Johannesburg. She had even submitted a complaint to the Department of Justice and the Public Protector. She had all the documents from the Environmental Health Agency that she submitted to the Public Protector and the Ombudsman of the City of Johannesburg. She had emailed the Public Protector and the ombudsman on 8 July but that had not received a response from either of them yet.
The Chairperson asked if there were any other documents that were needed by the Committee. He asked Ms Peele to provide these to the Committee so that copies could be made.
Ms Peele said that she also had newspaper articles from the Sowetan newspaper, one of which reported on the noise levels produced by Unity Fellowship Church and the other one asked why the church was using vuvuzelas in a residential area during its church services.
The Chairperson said the Committee would make copies of all of the newspaper reports. He then called on Unity Fellowship Church to speak to the complaint.
Submission by Unity Fellowship Church
Dr Makhuba said he was very grateful to be afforded the opportunity to engage with the Committee and present the petition that the church management had initiated in response to being told by the City that the church was going to be demolished. He said he wanted to register the earlier complaint that the church had presented to the Committee, that the hearing could not be held as the matter was in court, despite the fact that the Chairperson had guaranteed that Parliament operated independently of the courts. He was sure the Committee would hear a lot of stories from the City as to why they had engaged in this protracted war to demolish the church. The City had also not given the church management the noise level readings from the Environmental Health Authority or informed them of the noise level limits that they needed to observe.
There was no proper consultation when the church was built. When one applied to build a place of worship, one of the requirements is that you need to inform residents in the surrounding area by registered mail and the church has evidence that it had done so. Regarding the issue of the security cameras that are focused on Ms Peele’s house, the church generates a lot of money in terms of tithing, offerings and so on which need to be protected and which the church had a right to protect. The church has a right to protect its property as long as it did not infringe on any other individual or organisation’s rights in doing so. When one has security cameras on one’s premises, it is often unavoidable that these cameras might also inadvertently look into someone else’s property.
Regarding the claim by Ms Peele that she had been attacked by a mob of church members, South Africa is a country of laws, and it was therefore impossible that what Ms Peele claimed was true, as there were laws that prevented people from attacking others. It was also impossible that the representatives of the Environmental Health Agency had been intimidated as there are laws that prevent people from intimidating others in that kind of way. In South Africa you cannot get away with preventing an environmental health officer from executing their duties in a church. He asserted that environmental officers had never been denied access to the church property. If they measured the noise levels when there was church activity, then that would be when a service is taking place and the gate to the premises would have been open as thousands of people come in and go out the church gate when services happen. The residents’ claim that they needed to go to court and obtain a court order in order for Environmental Health Agency officers to be able to execute their duties was therefore untrue. The church management has never even been privy to those noise level measurements.
The problem with the court order is that the mayor was not aware that a court order had been obtained, as Ms Peele and the residents had obtained it behind everyone’s back, including the executive of the City of Johannesburg Council. Proceedings had also been started against the church management without them having been informed of this.
Mr M Mhlanga (ANC, Mpumalanga) said he hoped that Dr Makhuba had been told that he was speaking under oath and under time constraints.
The Chairperson reminded Dr Makhuba that the complaint was about the noise produced by the church and asked Dr Makhuba to make that the focal point of his submission. He asked Dr Makhuba to maximise the content of his submission around the issue of noise and the security cameras.
Dr Makhuba wanted to interject, saying that he wanted to call a point of order but was not aware of the right way to do so in the meeting. The Members of the Committee, as the people’s representatives could not direct how the church expressed themselves in the meeting or tell them that their submission was too long and that they needed to get to the point.
The Chairperson replied that as the Chairperson of the meeting, it was part of his job and that was exactly what he was doing.
Dr Makhuba said that only 89 people had signed Ms Peele’s petition and it was being entertained by the Committee, and yet the Committee had adamantly refused to entertain in any way whatsoever a petition signed by 65 000 people. Ms Peele had complained that high school students, implying that they are minors, however, they are an important component of the community and any child above 16 is considered to be an adult and has the legal power to sign a petition, had signed the church’s petition. Parliament thinks that this petition signed by only 89 people more legitimate than a petition signed by 65 000 people.
He said Ms Peele was also incorrect about the times the church services end as they end at 18:00 hours on Wednesdays. On Saturdays the church conducts social events like weddings. The church was established about 10 years ago.
The Chairperson asked Dr Makhuba if he was going to provide a copy to the Committee of the document that he was reading as part of his submission.
Dr Makhuba replied that he would. He said as a result of the complaints from the residents, the city of Johannesburg (the City) had sent Unity Fellowship Church management a letter, informing them that the church was going to be demolished. By doing so the City was preventing the congregation from worshipping in their church and celebrating church holidays. The church management is opposing the matter in court, as there should have been a review process first. The Environmental Health Agency harasses the church as they come to take readings of the noise levels all the time, even when there is a wedding, as the residents complain that the church makes a noise when there is a wedding. He reminded the Committee that this is an industrial area that also had shebeens that made a lot of noise.
As this was an industrial area it could have been a factory that had been built next to the resident’s houses, rather than a church. This would have been far worse than having a church built next to their house as not only would the factory make a noise but it would probably also release noxious gasses. The fact that our church makes a noise that disturbs residents should not be used to stop our congregation from exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of worship.
Although thousands of people reside in Chiawelo Extension 5, only 89 people had signed the petition. When the church had meetings with the residents, only about ten residents came to the meetings. He said that the church is in an area where, in South Africa, if residents had been unhappy about the noise levels, they would have come out in full force to deal with the problem, they would have come out as a community to express their anger. The Committee should keep that in mind and also consider that people want the church there. The problem with measuring the noise levels on the church premises is that the church is in an industrial area, which is already noisy. If one looked at the fact that the church had received permission to construct its building so close to the residents houses, one must wonder whether the City of Johannesburg had properly applied its mind to the application for the church to be built in its current location. One wall of the church building had been built as close as two to five meters from one of Ms Peele’s windows. The City should have refused the building plans.
Dr Makhuba wondered what the City’s response would have been if the residents had complained about a factory that was built close to their houses because factories generate noise by their very nature. He speculated as to whether the City would demolish the factory because residents complained and wanted the factory to stop operating. One must question if the City council would actually go and enforce noise regulations in that instance. The City should not have allowed the church to be built so close to the residents’ houses, it should have been built far from the houses. Old churches that had been built in South Africa in the past had been separated from houses by at least a street, however this was not always the case with new churches built recently and this was certainly not the case with the Unity Fellowship Church that had been built in Chiawelo Extension 5. He realised that Ms Peele and her family would suffer some noise because of this. However, the City cannot now punish the church and demolish its building on the pretext that the building is in contravention of City bylaws. He asked why the church was being punished for a mistake that the city council had made. Churches by their very nature are noisy as worship includes clapping and singing, but what about the rights of those that attend the church? What recourse do they have when the City Council tells them that it is going to demolish the church in which they worship, without being provided with alternative land for this church?
Mr M Mohapi (ANC, Free State) apologised for interrupting Dr Makhuba’s submission but asked Dr Makhuba to please try not to repeat himself in order to emphasise particular points, making these points once was sufficient. Most of the points that he had captured in Dr Makhuba’s submission had been repetitive. He did not want to suppress or put pressure on Dr Makhuba as every person has a right to make a presentation, but there are rules that cover the proceedings. Maybe part of the issue was that the representatives of the parties had not been given a stipulated time in which to make their submissions. If the representatives were allowed to take as much time as they liked to make their submissions the hearing would continue for two or three days, which would be ridiculous. He therefore asked Dr Makhuba to discuss issues that are of paramount importance first.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would appreciate it if Dr Makhuba could wrap up his presentation.
Dr Makhuba thanked the Chairperson and said that he appreciated that he had limited time and did not want to appear in any manner to be unreasonable, however…
The Chairperson interrupted Dr Makhuba to say that he was not observing his (Chairperson’s) and Mr Mohapi’s repeated requests to deal with the main issues of the petition and to conclude his submission.
Dr Makhuba said the Committee could not be upset about the way in which he expressed himself as it had invited him to make a submission to them. Members should not be sitting on the Committee if they were not prepared to hear him present his case. It was hypocrisy that the Committee had called him to the meeting to hear him present his case and were now telling him how he should express himself.
Mr Mohapi asked Dr Makhuba to treat the Committee with respect, as he was not dealing with individuals who are hypocritical but rather with honourable individuals that respect him. He asked Dr Makhuba to be humble in his submission and not to divert from the main issues.
The Chairperson asked Dr Makhuba to afford the Committee the same decency that they were affording him. It was not the Committee’s intention to argue with anyone but rather to listen to the submissions that people make so that they can apply their minds to the issues at hand.
Dr Makhuba said he had all the necessary documents with him to submit to the Committee for its perusal. He had many points that he really wanted to make in his submission but did not want to appear disrespectful to the Committee who had asked him to conclude his submission. The congregation’s freedom was under threat. They wanted to be afforded the right to worship as their faith dictates. He appealed to the Committee that as protectors and guarantors of the public’s rights, that it allow the church to ensure that the rights of its congregation are protected.
Ms Numaio said that the church cares for all people, including Ms Peele. The church had cared for residents who are neighbours of Ms Peele, and now they are caring for the church. The institution at fault in this matter is the City in granting approval for a church to be built right next to houses. The people in the church community worshipped by clapping hands and singing. They do not even use musical instruments.
The church is in the process of submitting their own petition to the Committee, indicating that it was the City of Johannesburg that caused this problem because it had not planned for the church’s growth in congregation numbers. The congregation has grown since the church was first built, as many people want to go there in exercising their right to freedom of religion. The congregation consisted of many youths who had been criminals, drug dealers and rapists. Joining the church has helped these youth to be regenerated with respect and morality and helped them to change for the better.
Part of the problem was that under apartheid, the City used to allow for the houses of Black South Africans to be built in buffer zones. She wanted Parliament to meet the church halfway as the church had tried to remedy the problem by buying a new property to move to. However, the church management was being abused for political gain. She wanted Parliament to recognise that the church is trying to provide a solution to the problem of the noise levels and would be ready to move to the new property immediately, which is not next to anyone’s house and is far away from Ms Peele’s house.
The city created obstacles to the church moving to the Eikenhof property and if the issue was getting out of hand, it was the City’s fault and they therefore cannot close the church. The church had even written to Parliament to prevent this from happening.
Criminals also entered the church through the back of the church’s premises and yet the residents expected the church to not have security cameras. The cameras were actually also safeguarding the residents as some of them also inadvertently also monitored parts of the residents homes while monitoring the church premises.
Mr Mbengu tried to interject saying that Ms Numaio was being intimidated.
Regarding issues raised in response to the Environmental Health representatives not being allowed to measure noise levels on the church premises, Ms Numaio replied that these representatives had not introduced themselves to the church management and that even if they had, these days you could not just believe strangers who appeared on your doorstep and claimed to be from specific organisations. The Environmental Health Agency representatives should have introduced themselves to the church management and explained that they were there to measure the noise level. Had they done so the church could have accommodated them and asked them to measure the sound of the congregation just clapping hands, rather than singing, to see if this would reduce the noise level. The only people that the Environmental Health Agency representatives had introduced themselves to were the church’s security guards and this was only when the security guards found them in a corner of the church’s garden. They had also told the security guards not to tell the church management that they were there. The church management had not been given copies of these noise level readings. The Environmental Health Agency needed to stop harassing the church and its congregation as their faith required them to worship by singing and dancing.
She alleged there was political gain for the representatives of the City in the decision to demolish the church. Demolishing the church was not going to make the noise go away as the City could not remove the individuals in the congregation, who would still come to the premises to worship, even if the church was demolished. The church provided an important service to the congregation in terms of healing as many people in the congregation that struggled to go to the medical school for medical services. It also provides an important rehabilitation service for youths who were drug dealers, criminals and rapists. These youths had been changed through joining the church.
The Constitution gives the congregation the right to freedom of religion and freedom of worship and their faith dictates that worship requires singing. The church had requested a discussion with the City. In that discussion all stakeholders were supposed to work together to find a solution to the problem, however, staff at the City offices afterwards told them the politicians had made promises that they were not going to adhere to.
The Chairperson said Members could ask questions or make comments on the submission by Dr Makhuba before the meeting moved on to the submission by Member of the Mayoral Committee for Development Planning from the City of Johannesburg.
Ms T Wana (ANC, Eastern Cape) wanted clarity on what action the church management had taken if they knew that the Environmental Health agency had sent representatives to their premises to measure the noise levels. She also wanted to know if poor people were getting a stipend for attending the church.
Mr Mhlanga asked if the church had a rezoning certificate and if the property on which the church stood had been rezoned. If the property was not zoned to be a church property, how did the church get services like electricity and water? He also asked was why the Committee had never received the church’s petition.
Mr Mohapi suggested that members delay their questions until after the submission by MMC Development Planning from the City of Johannesburg, as he was sure that some of the questions that members had would be answered in this submission. This would allow for a more holistic discussion, particularly as there were serious time constraints on the meeting.
The Chairperson said he would like Ms Peele and Dr Makhuba to respond to the Members questions, and to please answer these questions succinctly.
Regarding the question of why the church management is insensitive to noise, Dr Makhuba replied that he did not say that the church management is not sensitive to noise. He said that they are very sensitive to the noise but that the allegation that the sounds of their worshipping constituted noise was defamatory as was not in fact noise but rather the sounds of worship, even if these were construed as noise by people outside the church.
The Chairperson asked Dr Makhuba what remedial actions the church management had put in place to address the concerns of the residents.
Dr Makhuba replied that the Environmental Health Agency wanted to apply noise regulations but the church management had not had access to those noise readings and told what the level of noise was that they could not go beyond.
The Chairperson again asked Dr Makhuba if there was anything that the church management had done to address the concerns of the residents.
Dr Makhuba replied that they had closed the church windows during church services.
The next question that asked was, if the church serves the poor, why was it not being sensitive to the needs of the poor. Dr Makhuba replied that the church does serve the poor, which was what it was there for.
Members asked why the church had not moved to the land that it had bought. Dr Makhuba replied that the church had had to deal with one issue after another with the City in trying to move to that land.
Mr Mhlanga asked Dr Makhuba if the church had a zoning certificate.
Dr Makhuba replied that the City had given the church a zoning certificate but had then withdrawn it five years later, in 2013.
The Chairperson asked if the City had withdrawn the one that the church already had.
Ms Numaio said the City council withdrew the consent. They had been trying to withdraw consent since from 2008 until 2013. However the church still has water and electricity, despite the consent being withdrawn.
Dr Makhuba said that the church had submitted a petition to Parliament that had been signed and stamped by Parliament. He was disappointed and angry because someone in Parliament had told him that his petition had been rejected. He had the details of the person who had told him that the petition had been rejected.
The Chairperson asked if someone in Parliament had told him that and asked Dr Makhuba if he could provide the particulars of this person.
Dr Makhuba said it was crucial that the Committee noted that the church wanted the City to investigate why the church had been built so close to Ms Peele’s house.
Mr Thobejane said that the Committee had already noted that.
Dr Makhuba asked why the City had not provided answers to the questions Members had asked, and why they had allowed houses to be built in an industrial area.
The Chairperson asked Dr Makhuba to end there as he was going to give the City a chance to address these questions.
The meeting was adjourned early because of the Parliamentary support staff strike.
No related documents
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.