Sowetan

R5 000 to see man of God

CASH NOT TO EN­RICH MALAWIAN PAS­TOR

- Si­bongile Mashaba South Africa News · Religion · Society · Discrimination · Human Rights · Pretoria · Malawi · Mali · KwaZulu-Natal · Eastern Cape · Cape Town · South Africa · Africa · Western Cape · University of Cape Town · Shepherd Bushiri · American Baptist Missionary Union

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.

 ?? PHOTO: BAFANA MAHLANGU ?? TRA­DI­TION­AL­IST: Chair­woman of the Com­mis­sion for the Pro­mo­tion and Pro­tec­tion of the Rights of Cul­tural, Re­li­gious and Lin­guis­tic Com­mu­ni­ties Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva de­scribes her­self as an African fem­i­nist who knows where she comes from
PHOTO: BAFANA MAHLANGU TRA­DI­TION­AL­IST: Chair­woman of the Com­mis­sion for the Pro­mo­tion and Pro­tec­tion of the Rights of Cul­tural, Re­li­gious and Lin­guis­tic Com­mu­ni­ties Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva de­scribes her­self as an African fem­i­nist who knows where she comes from
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