The Premier has also called for the religious sector to speak with one voice as this is crucial in spreading the correct message about the virus.
Premier Zikalala was speaking during his engagement with the leaders of the clergy on the impact of Covid-19 in the province held at Coastlands Umhlanga Hotel on Monday.
“It is crucial that the religious sector in KZN speak with one voice if we are to succeed in overcoming the pandemic. We cannot afford to leave anything to chance. We cannot risk giving confusing and contradictory messages. And your sector is too critical to take the eye off the ball,” said Zikalala.
Zikalala had strong words for some church leaders who have reportedly defied President Cyril Ramaphosa’s directives on how to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic.
“We know that there are some in the name of the church who have taken advantage of the trust of our people and have abused their positions of authority in the sector. The scriptures forewarned us about such people and gave us the signs to be able to identify them.
“We urge you all, especially in this crisis brought by the pandemic, to close ranks against those who take advantage of the trust of our people for their selfish ends.
"We urge you as leaders of various religious formations to also work with government in persuading those who seek to defy government’s measures aimed at containing this pandemic to urgently change their ways," said Zikalala.
He warned that the government was ready to act against anyone who sought to risk public health “by acting irresponsibly and without regard to the safety and wellbeing of others. But we know that the challenge that we face is too big to think that it will only be solved by fining people or sending them to jail.”
Premier Zikalala reminded the clergy that it was the religious sector that keeps communities together in the country in a time of crisis like this.
“In a country like South Africa, the church and various faiths permeate the entire social fabric. In the most remote areas of our country, in the poorest parts of our province, in overcrowded informal settlements, it is the religious sector that keeps communities together and offer hope where there is despair.
"You enjoy the trust of the overwhelming majority of South Africans, and with this immense power in your hands, we thank many of you for using it responsibly for the benefit of society.”
Premier Zikalala also urged the church to pray for those who are in the frontline of combating the virus such as doctors and healthcare workers.
“At this time, those who are in the frontline of combating the disease need to know they are loved, cared for, and prayed for. Our nurses, doctors and community healthcare workers need your encouragement and support. They are risking their own lives to save the lives of others, and they must know that they are appreciated and prayed for minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day,” said Zikalala.
The Premier said he has no doubt that the religious sector will lead the way in the fight against the spread of the disease.
ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF THE KZN PREMIER
For enquiries, contact:
KZN Provincial Government Spokesperson
082 884 2403
KZN Premier Media Liaison
083 253 0748