Unless the City of Joburg addresses the influx of illegal churches in Yeoville, residents have warned that the vigilante violence seen in Rosettenville and Pretoria could erupt in the densely populated suburb.
The threat of xenophobic violence comes after churches in the area have encroached on residences, eliciting noise complaints – but by-law enforcement has yet to be seen.
Residents have continued to express their fury, claiming the City of Joburg was unable to bring about law and order in addressing these issues.
A Pastor Elijah has opened a church in a block of flats on Joe Slovo Drive, and the constant noise from bands, including drums, microphones, keyboards and vocalists, is angering residents.
Neighbours claimed they couldn’t sleep, their children couldn’t study and their property values were being devalued. They further claimed they were verbally abused by the pastor and his congregation when they complained.
Satoko Mahlangu said she was constantly harassed by the pastor and his flock when she spoke out.
“Last week, (after hearing) the noise, I went into the church, introduced myself and asked them to stop the noise. A few men grabbed my body and pushed me out. Later, the pastor came to my flat, screaming and shouting I had trespassed on his property. He went to Yeoville police station to open a case against me.”
A resident, Papa Mbongo, said: “In our city, illegal churches defy court orders with impunity and they don’t get punished, but when law-abiding citizens react with anger and frustration, they become targeted,” he said, referring to what happened in Rosettenville and Pretoria.
Police were still investigating the arson attacks in Rosettenville and Pretoria West, where residents burnt down houses that they had deemed were brothels and drug dens.