Church faces ultimatum over noise

Isaac Chikosi 

The Spirit of Truth of All Nations church at Swakopmund has been given an ultimatum by the Swakopmund municipality: stop the noisy church services or risk prosecution.
Churches at the coast have been taken to task in recent months after dozens of residents complained of noisy church services, often until late in the night. Loud music and pastors using loudspeakers to carry the message of salvation as far as the ear can hear formed the basis for complaints.

While noise levels from clubs, bars and entertainment houses usually travel far, especially at night disrupting the lives of residents, church-es at the coast have also been in the spot-light for being noisy when conducting services.
Following this notice given to The Spirit of Truth Church of All Nations in Swakopmund’s DRC settlement, the Christians Concerned Group (CCG) organised a peaceful demonstration to the Office of the Governor and a petition addressed to the Minister of Urban and Rural Development, Dr Peya Mushelenga.
Festus Thomas, the leader of CCG ex-pressed his dissatisfaction with regards to the way Christian groups are being treat-ed with regards to land allocation. “There is no land allocated for churches”.
He lamented the fact that churches are being evicted mostly because of complaints of the loud noise. Last month, the Namibian Police in the Region confirmed having received numerous complaints about excess noise caused by churches. In addition to this, many argue that the public address (PA) systems are way too loud and could be turned down to suit the size of the congregation and not for the whole neighbourhood having to listen to spiritual leader’s voice.
The Spirit of Truth Church of All Nation in Swakopmund’s DRC location received an ultimatum from Swakopmund Municipality instructing them to cease their current activities with “immediate effect.” In a letter dated 10 July 2019, the Health Services Department alluded to receiving complaints from “surrounding neighbours regarding the unsatisfactory conduct at the church premises in Swakopmund.”
According to the letter, the main concern was the continuous noise from the loud music of the church activities emanating from their premises, which deprives residents in the area of their peaceful sleep.
The letter further in-structs the church and its overseers to stop their current activities and gave them 14 days to comply. In contrast the petition submitted to the Governor’s office from Bishop Festus Thomas and the Concerned Christian Group reads, “We are the mutual landless Minority Churches in Namibia, and we are humbly presenting this letter to you, as the only alternative way to in-form you that our Namibian people (Minority Churches) are experiencing psycho-logical torture, discrimination and humiliation by Swakopmund Municipal Township”. In addition to this the petition further reads; “Christians are also brilliant people who participate in voting, but our votes are totally meaning-less, because after voting we always face horrible evictions because we are not part of the system.” The group cited Article 10(2) of the Namibian Constitution in support of their case which states, “No persons may be discriminated against on the grounds of sex, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social or economic status. [sic]”
A Mondesa resident who was questioned about the noise from churches had this to say. “I know bars also make noise, but the churches are excessive because they don’t have a time limit.
Sometimes there is loud music until 03:00 in the morning.”
Bishop Thomas wants an end to what he feels is a war against the church.
The Swakopmund Municipality has not yet responded to questions at the time of going to press.

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