Residents of North Hills Mansions in Yeoville, Johannesburg, will sleep tight from now on after the South Gauteng High Court on Wednesday May 17 granted the City of Johannesburg an order against a pastor who had been operating an illegal church for several months and disturbing the peace of the locals. The order was granted by Judge Justice Twala.
Selvan Crole Marcelle, who was not present in court, had illegally converted his flat into a church after tearing down not only the internal walls but also an outside wall with heritage value belonging to the complex. As a result, Marcelle, popularly known among his congregants as Pastor Eiljah, was in contravention of a number of by-laws, noise pollution regulations and church zoning rules.
“The sheriff of the court will serve the pastor with an order to stop conducting church services. Violation of the order will result in the pastor being held in contempt of court,” said Prince Mudau of Prince Mudau & Associates, a law firm representing the City. Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba briefly attended the court proceedings in support of the residents of North Hills Mansions, who had complained about the disruptive and noisy church services, which were held almost on a daily basis and often went on until well into the early hours of the morning.
Following the complaints, the City applied for a High Court interdict on April 18 to stop Marcelle from conducting the illegal church services.
Speaking on the sidelines of the court proceedings, Mayor Mashaba said the order signalled the beginning of the end of illegal churches across the city. “Illegal churches are disrupting the lives of law-abiding citizens,” said Mayor Mashaba.
“We have law-abiding citizens who have invested in their homes, which are being devalued by these illegal activities. We are going to reclaim this city.”
The Mayor said illegal churches were a big problem in Yeoville. “It’s time we deal with the matter and send a strong message that there is no place in Johannesburg for people who disregard the law,” he said.