God loves you, but don’t come late for church. This was the underlying message that played out graphically in a video that went viral.
Parishioners of a Mdantsane church watched in dismay as a loose maul developed at the perimeter gate when an elder tried to refuse six latecomers access to the Sunday morning service.
The video captures two members of the Old Apostolic Church in NU8 — one an elder, the other a young family man — wrestling over the gate.
The church later claimed it had been forced off its railings.
The elder appears to get it almost closed, but the younger man, dressed in a smart jacket and tie, scrums the gate back to the open position. Massed singing of the Sunday hymn can be heard in the background.
The elder is heard saying: “You will not get inside. I told you to go home. You are blessed, beloved, but you will not get in.”
A senior church leader, who asked not to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, said the men had a disagreement about members who had demanded entry into church grounds, but were refused after arriving 15 minutes late.
The man said the church was dealing with the matter internally.
“The matter is still under investigation. Every church has its own rules, and we are trying to abide to Covid-19 regulations.”
He said congregants had been asked to arrive early to have their hands sanitised and to be screened before the service started.
He said some of the latecomers had gone home, but six people remained at the gate, demanding entrance.
The three-minute-long video shows a church leader standing at the gate while another man tries to force his way inside the building.
The men are seen in a scuffle while a woman is heard on the video condemning the incident.
Approached for comment on Monday afternoon, one of the men in the video, Unathi Gunuza, declined to comment.
All he would say was: “I have nothing to say to the media about this at this stage … I was not fighting there. I have no interest in talking about this.”