DRUNK ON POWER
Drum English|28 May 2020
His belief that booze and prayer go together landed him behind bars during lockdown – but church leader Tsietsi Makiti is unrepentant
BONOLO SEKUDU

THE loud wailing that pierced the air on Sunday morning was not the sign from the heavens that controversial church leader Tsietsi Makiti had been waiting for.

Instead, it was the sound of sirens from at least 20 police vehicles that greeted the self-proclaimed “pope” of the Gabola Church.

The church – infamous for being Mzansi’s only place of worship where alcohol flows freely during services – has been praying, along with many South Africans, for relief from the booze ban imposed by the government during the lockdown.

Makiti (53), draped in colourful red and purple vestments, a mitre and a face mask, was arrested – along with his wife, Lydia (52), and five members of the church – for contravening the lockdown regulations and holding a service outside his home in Evaton North, Joburg.

Bottles of whisky, vodka and cooldrinks were neatly arranged on a makeshift altar, along with a bottle of hand sanitiser for the small gathering.

The assembled congregants were seated about 1,5m from one another, observing social-distancing rules.

Ahead of the lockdown, which began in March, Makiti told the Daily Sun the coronavirus “was for rich people. They get it because they travel all around the world and bring it here.

“How could we get the virus while we’re broke and always around the kasi? It’s sad that we’re panicking but we have never even left the country.”

He added that God and booze would protect them.

“We’re not scared of this virus. I trust the Lord and alcohol.”

There was no divine intervention when the cops arrived to arrest Makiti and his wife, who was charged with “failing to close a non-essential business during the Covid-19 lockdown”, says police spokesman Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo.

“Members of Public Order Policing unit were summoned to the scene after they were informed of church activity in progress and, on their arrival, they found the suspects making or shooting a video. Other people were also arrested for failing to confine themselves to their place of residence.”

Makiti and Lydia were released on bail of R3 000 each and the congregants were released on bail of R1 000 each.

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