South Africa Bans Christian Radio Network

Monday, May 15, 2006

By BosNewsLife News Center

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (BosNewsLife) -- Christians in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province worshipped Sunday, May 14, amid concerns over the future of their award-winning Good News Community Radio (GNCR) which was ordered to stop broadcasting by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), officials said.

In a statement obtained by BosNewsLife, GNCR said it had "faithfully served over 100,000 listeners for over 10 years," via its FM transmitter in the Durban area. Its non-stop programs aimed at all ethnic and religious groups aired in five languages, radio makers said.

The ICASA said it made the decision because the network did not broadcast in the language of the largest population in the region, Zulu. The High Court of South Africa agreed in last week's ruling, saying the board management "did not reflect these demographics.” GNCR has since appealed the ICASA decision and the High Court ruling.

“Our Community Radio Station falls in the community of interest category and not the geographical category," argued GNCR Producer, Technician and Presenter, Steven Mabugana.


"This means that the court ruled on things that are not actually applicable to us [as] our relevant community has nothing to do with race. It is about a group of people with a similar interest -Christianity- [and] we are serving a huge Christian community with a combination of Indian, Zulu and English listeners,” he added.

The network was "amongst the first to apply [for a broadcasting license] in this area, in 1995...We were shocked when we applied for a four year license and were turned down," Mabugana said in written remarks.

The station recently won a national award for their “Exam Buzz” education programs teaming up with metrics educators to provide free tuition for matriculates, especially those in rural areas.


As part of the project, students were able to phone in and interact with educators during the programs, receiving clarity on any exam related issue. GNCR held daily competitions for students and its programs became popular "among learners and educators as almost every subject in the curriculum was catered for," GNCR said.

“Why take a perfectly functioning and viable radio station off air? It has never been an instrument of harm to anyone. Our programs focus on education, drug and alcohol abuse, child and women abuse, life skills, morals and values,” wondered Tony Naidoo, who presents the GNCR Youth Program.

Roughly 100,000 residents in the community signed petitions in support of GNCR, the station claimed.


Missionaries suggested the move to close down the station seems part widespread persecution of rapidly growing evangelical churches, missionaries and affiliated organizations across the African continent.

"We are reminded of how in Eastern Europe under the Communists typewriters, and even carbon paper, were restricted items requiring to be registered by the state," said Peter Hammond, the Director of missionary group Frontline Fellowship which supports evangelization by missionary outreach to "resistant or neglected areas and groups" in Southern Africa and other regions.

This is "an ominous precedent, which threatens religious freedom in South Africa," long seen as a center for stability and democracy across the Africa, he suggested.


Frontline Fellowship has seen an increase of persecution across the continent against evangelical Christians and missionaries, whose cause it supports, including in Sudan where 57-year old Collin Lee from Bermuda was shot and killed in November 5, 2005.

Lee worked for the Christian relief organization International Aid Services (IAS) was allegedly killed by members of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA), which is engaged in an armed rebellion against the Ugandan government from bases in southern Sudan.

His wife, Hedvig, heavily pregnant with their first child, was injured but survived, missionaries said. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from Africa).

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