Matola Council Fines Brazilian Sect

The Municipal Council in the southern Mozambican city of Matola has fined the Brazilian evangelical sect, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God (IURD), 56 million meticais (about 2,800 US dollars) for illegally converting a supermarket into a church.

Inspectors from the Council visited the "Hamburguesa" supermarket on 13 December, and found that it was no longer a supermarket. Where food was once sold, there was now a 24 square metre altar, and the building had been divided into several rooms.

Such alterations require planning permission from the Council, but this had never been applied for. Nor was there any authorisation for changing the nature of the building from commercial to religious.

The Council acted speedily on the report from the inspectors, and has given the IURD 30 days to pay the 56 million meticais fine.

In addition, all religious services in the building must stop at once, and the IURD was given 72 hours to dismantle the altar, and return the supermarket to its previous condition.