South Africa’s firebrand opposition politician Julius Malema has urged people not to fall for the “trap” of going to church, saying they will die after contracting coronavirus.

Places of worship are set to reopen from 1 June after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced easing of lockdown restrictions to level three – but only 50 or less people will be allowed inside at any time.

On Thursday, Mr Malema said the reopening of churches would expose worshippers to infections and urged religious leaders to keep them closed if they cared about the well-being of their people.

He advised members of his Economic Freedom Fighters party not to attend worship, saying “it’s a set-up”.

He said restaurants had better hygiene practices but remained closed and so worship places should not reopen.