A pastor of a church that discourages wearing masks for Covid-19 protection has tested positive for the virus.
Currently in isolation at her house, pastor Talent Botepe of Christ Embassy in Francistown tested positive soon after five members of her church were arrested for violations of covid-19 prevention regulations.
Confirming the arrest in an interview, superintendent Lebalang Maniki said police pounced on a service and caught worshipers not wearing masks.
“They were charged P200 each. I however have to say in our interaction with churches we’ve realised that most of them are complying,” Maniki said
Speaking on behalf of his wife, Pastor Koketso Botepe, said there was no clear connection between the church and his wife, Talent Botepe’s Covid-19 positive status.
“She could have gotten it from her colleagues at BOCODOL. A lot of her colleagues tested positive,” said Pastor Koketso in an interview.
Meanwhile Christ Embassy has come under scrutiny following their Nigerian founder, Chris Oyakhilome’s recent anti-mask utterances on social media.
In one of his controversial utterances, which went viral on social media, Oyakhilome declared that the use of facemasks when worshiping in churches could expose worshippers to health hazards.
He also described other covid-19 guidelines including social distancing, sitting arrangement of not more than 200 metres among others as a “conspiracy, and an attempt to gag the church.”
Another high-ranking Nigerian pastor from the same church, Biodun Lawal remarked that heaven is ashamed of pastors and Christians who wear facemasks as a Covid-19 preventive measure.
“If you still want to wear a mask, wear it but do not call yourself a man of God. He is a baby of God. We can’t even call you son. You are a baby of God. Son is too high. We can’t even call you a child of God,” Pastor Lawal said in a video that is now widely circulated on social media.
According to concerned members of the church in Botswana, this message from the two prominent members seemed to have been headed well by some local branches much to their detriment.
A member of the church at Botsalano Complex branch in Somerset Extension-Francistown raised concerns about how congregants including the now covid 19 positive pastor Botepe did not wear masks during church services.
The worried member said some members raised concerns over the no mask rule in church but Pastor Botepe had insisted on preaching without a mask.
“Just go to their Facebook page and you will clearly see for yourself. Some members were recently arrested by the police for not wearing masks,” he said.
The Voice further learnt that the church recently put a glass shield on the pulpit so that Pastor Botepe could continue to speak without a mask.
“Praise and worship members sing without masks and then exchange microphones, which clearly poses another danger. This gospel of no masks is really putting a lot of lives at risk,” said the concerned member.
However Pastor talent Botepe’s husband dissociated himself from Oyakhilome’s anti mask sentiments.
“I can only speak on behalf of Christ Embassy Francistown. The church here follows rules as laid down by the government. Pastor Chris has his own opinions but here we are bound by the laws of the country,” Botepe said.