He is a Christian first, then a bus driver. That’s the word from the MyCiTi bus driver who lost his job for leading passengers in prayer at the start of every journey.
But even though a prayer that lasted less than 30 seconds has cost him his job, Jerome Rose said yesterday he would not lose faith. “That’s okay. God has bigger plans for me,” he said, hours after a disciplinary hearing resulted in his dismissal.
News of the disciplinary action quickly spread on social media, with overwhelming support for the now jobless Rose.
Rose, who has been driving the Cape Town/Atlantis route for the past year, said he was given a verbal warning last Friday to stop leading passengers in prayer after a passenger submitted a written complaint.
“But on Monday, I prayed again. I am a Christian first, then a bus driver,” he insisted. A colleague apparently caught the prayer session on video, and on Tuesday he was given a final written warning. But on Wednesday, Rose again started the day with a prayer.
“I prayed to thank God for allowing us to see another day and for Him to bless our journey. And like always, it was met with a loud ‘Amen’.”
He was suspended and attended a disciplinary hearing on Thursday.
“This morning (yesterday) they informed me that I was fired. But to me, that’s okay. I lost my job for a good cause. My faith is more important to me.” Rose, however, plans to appeal the ruling.
“For all the months I have been doing this, I have not once received any complaints from passengers. They closed their eyes and afterwards thanked me for asking God to bless and protect them. What I did is not wrong,” he said.
Mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said on Thursday the bus driver was initially not disciplined, but asked to “refrain from leading the passengers in prayer as there are passengers from mixed faiths on the MyCiTi bus who take exception to the practice”.
“It is important for us all to acknowledge the fact that the residents of Cape Town and visitors to our city belong to different faiths, or that some of us may not be religious at all.
“I, therefore, want to make an appeal for tolerance and respect for each other and our right to choose which religion to practise, if any, and when and how we do so,” he said.
Drivers wanting to “bless their journey” were asked to do so quietly in the cab of the MyCiTi bus. Rose, however, said he refused to “hide my faith and gratitude to God”.
“Besides, I was fully committed to my job. I was good at what I did. But this is all part of God’s plan for me. His will be done.” After Rose’s situation was posted on Facebook by a user, people of all faiths shared their outrage.
“As (with) any trip you take, you have to say a prayer. You never know what might happen even around the corner.
“Big up to this man. I’m sure he puts the passengers in a good mood every day. A prayer can (go) a long way,” one user posted. Another commented, “Father, please bless his soul!”
“Let us put God first in everything. No compromise!” a different user agreed.
When News24 spoke to him, Rose was on the way to his home in Pniel, outside Stellenbosch. “My job forced me to live in Atlantis. I only went home once a month to spend time with my family.” — News24.