R5 000 to see man of God
CASH NOT TO ENRICH MALAWIAN PASTOR
A PRETORIA church charges congregants R5 000 to have one-on-one sessions with their Malawi-based prophet.
The Enlightened Christian Gathering, however, denies that the money from the session with Major Prophet Shepherd Bushiri is used to enrich him.
Responding to questions by the CRL commission investigating dodgy pastors and the commercialised selling of religion, representatives from the church said the R5 000 was not really a fee.
The church ’ s Mirriam Motsolo on Monday said the money covered each church members ’ accommodation, transport and food. She said it was just to ensure Bushiri found all the “people in one place ”.
Motsolo revealed that they had so far this year collected an income of R1.2-million. She said in the 2014/2015 financial year the church collected R639 938. The commission found the church was in breach of the Nonprofit Organisation Act because it had not been audited though registered as an NPO.
The church said it also had a social responsibility to help bury poor followers.
It also accepts prophetic seeding – which is for the prophet, seeding, tithes, offerings and prophetic channel seeding, for people who want to partner with the free-to-air ministry channel. “Seeding is when you have a special need and what you are trusting God for. [You] plant it and expect to harvest at a later season,” said evangelist Trity Pretorius.
Motsolo said the prophetic seeding money was not sent to Malawi but was used for Bushiri ’ s travel and accommodation. Meanwhile, River of Living Waters leader Archbishop Stephen Zondo said last week he would cooperate with the investigation.
The church ’ s Reverend Andile Mali said the commission was using government resources to destroy churches. “There is no problem if we are selling apples and spinach or whatever at the church. Because whatever we are selling, we [are] also using our money as a church to buy water and to buy whatever we are selling [at] the church.”
Agape International Ministries leader Pastor Busisiwe Thebehali also submitted her ordination and accreditation certificate, among other documents.
She said although being a church leader was a calling, one needs to get qualifications. “You need to be equipped. You need to be skilled on how to handle people because God is entrusting you with a big thing. There is a school where you will be taught about the Bible.”
“There is a school where you will be taught about the Bible
THOKO Mkhwanazi-Xaluva is the first to admit that she is a traditionalist at heart.
But she says traditional affairs should be practised in their purest form and, where necessary, Western medication should take over to save lives.
She describes herself as an African feminist who knows where she comes from.
She acknowledges that although most traditional practices were introduced with good intentions, some traditional leaders are not following proper procedures.
For instance, she says virginity testing is an important practice that helps young girls to maintain their pureness until they are ready for sex. But it has to be done in a non-invasive way.
She attended this year ’ s reed dance in KwaZulu-Natal, and says there are many young girls who want to retain their virginity.
“If I had a daughter I would be proud if she were part of the practice,” says Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.
The practice of ukuthwala (arranged marriage) has been distorted, and she wants this to change. “This [ ukuthwala] was done to help two people who were in love but did not have money for lobolo to mitigate that obstacle.
“Abducting is wrong and I addressed this with several traditional leaders.”
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, who hails from KwaZulu-Natal, heads the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL).
At the moment she is at the centre of a storm, pushing for traditional healers and all religions to be regulated.
She wants all religious organisations, from Muslims, all Christian denominations – including Jehovah ’ s Witnesses, Apostolic, Zion – Hindus and Jews to appear before the commission to declare their financial reports and their leaders ’ qualifications and if they are registered.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva says religion has been commercialised. “I want Muslims to come and explain what
halaal [permitted] is, what water or halaal food does.
“There are adverts by traditional healers that they can multiply people ’ s money. They must explain how this is possible.”
In the case of churches, she says the country cannot have people becoming pastors just because they had a vision.
“They just buy chairs, tables and get a marquee without any qualifications and run a church. They marry people, they preside over funerals and they are not qualified to do the job.”
She says while there are churches that are members of the South African Council of Churches that do not want to appear before the inquiry, politicians have also made calls to her about the process – she laughs out loud, refusing to name them.
“Politicians are agitated. Some church leaders have sent them to speak to me on their behalf. I will not back down. And those politicians, I just told them I hear you and I will speak to the church leaders myself.”
Church leaders are visibly shaken by the process. MkhwanaziXaluva sees this as a positive, given that these church leaders wield a lot of influence. The infamous pastor Penuel Mnguni, known for making his congregants eat snakes, has disappeared since the start of the hearings. “Any black person is scared of snakes. How do you make them believe they can eat snakes? He controls their minds … We need to dislodge that,” she says.
Her job is interesting because, while her task is to rein in those that go against the people ’ s rights, there are people who are willing participants in these activities.
“I am dealing with issues of culture that are highly contested, like religion.
“Virginity testing and circumcision are issues. Church leaders should treat members with dignity.”
She hopes the report on the probe into churches will be ready by April when it will be tabled in parliament with proposals around regulating churches.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva has travelled around the country visiting traditional leaders who run circumcision schools to get to the bottom of the high number of initiate deaths.
“Some traditional leaders questioned why a woman would call them to account.
“I told them that the minute there is an ambulance called to the school or a mortuary arriving to collect bodies then their business becomes my business.
“I have been firm with them and told them I am not going to back down. There is talk of legislation around circumcision schools and I will not rest until no child dies
– when they [go] there.”
She has tried to convince traditional leaders in Eastern Cape that they should work with young professional doctors who are traditionally circumcised.
“They are not open to the idea but these doctors can help to curb the deaths. It is a sensible thing to do. We need to incorporate medical knowledge in South Africa into traditional methods.
“I am not saying abandon the cultural practices but let them move with the times to save lives. It is a difficult discussion but they are hearing me,” she says.
Traditional leaders in Western Cape are already working closely with the University of Cape Town, using Western medicine as well as traditional practice during circumcision,” she says.
She describes her commission as the least funded Chapter 9 institution.