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Defiant Worshipers Arrested in Voi

Police on Sunday raided a church at Mbololo in Taita Taveta and arrested a Catholic father and 12 worshippers who were conducting a Sunday service in violation of government directives.
Fr. Ronald Wafula was presiding over a Sunday mass at St. Joseph Mukasa Catholic Church in Mwakiki village when police were tipped off by members of public over the ongoing service.
Confirming the incident, Voi Sub-County Police Commander Bernastein Shari said the police responded and found the cleric and 12 local worshippers in the middle of a mass.
They were promptly arrested for violating government directives that have outlawed church gatherings as part of effort to curb the spread of Coronavirus. They were taken to Voi police station for processing.
“We arrested him and the people inside. Their acts disregarded their and everyone’s safety. These are difficult times for everyone and we need to work together to keep the country safe,” said the police boss.
A catholic official from the Voi Parish who asked not to be named said it was troubling that priests were being arrested for offering comfort and hope to people who were scared of the disease.
Noting that there were less than 15 people in the church, the official added that people needed to be reminded that God was still with us despite the challenges the county was going through.
“Giving hope and comfort to the scared people should not be treated as a crime. We are very distressed over such actions,” said the official.
When contacted, Fr. Marcus Were, Father-in-charge of Voi Parish under which Mwakiki falls, declined to comment on the matter.
“The police should provide you with all the information you need,” he said.
The arrest of the priest confirms the government’s unyielding commitment to enforce the law forbidding any form of gathering.
Last week, Sagalla MCA Godwin Kilele and 13 people were arrested while playing draft in Voi town for failing to observe social distancing rules and not wearing face masks.
The fourteen were only released after a well-wisher bought them face masks and they promised to observe directives as issued by the government.
By Wagema Mwangi

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