CRL awaits court’s ruling
THE Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) is hoping that the court ruling in a case involving the commission and pastor Lethebo Rabalago today will be a vindication of its position.
The religion watchdog has been waging a war against religious leaders who it believes are violating the dignity of people and abusing their belief systems.
“We have also repeatedly said that there aren’t enough laws unless and until the victims stand up against these abuses,” the commission said.
The chairperson of the CRL Rights Commission ,Thoko Mkhwanazi Xaluva, expressed hope that the judgment would send a clear and strong warning to all pastors or prophets who take advantage of the poor, vulnerable and desperate people to stop their acts.
On March 20 last year, the Limpopo High Court ordered Rabalago to stop using insecticide on his congregants.
This came after the pastor was photographed spraying his congregants with Doom in 2016. At the time, Rabalago defended his methods, saying the use of the insect spray was harmless.
Rabalago is among a number of religious leaders reported to have used unorthodox methods during their sermons.
Others include Penuel Mnguni who fed his congregants snakes and Lesego Daniel who fed them petrol and grass.
Last year, the CRL Rights Commission released a report on the commercialisation of religion and the abuse of people’s beliefs, which found that religious practitioners have turned the trade into a moneymaking scheme, raking in undeclared millions monthly.
The report found, among other things, that in some cases money collected from congregants is never banked or that it is banked into the religious leader’s personal bank account.
Last week, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said it would investigate religious institutions for possible tax noncompliance.
SARS said it was also concerned that taxes on trading activities that were unrelated to religious activities‚ as well as pay as you earn (PAYE) on remuneration and other benefits were not being paid.
The Naboomspruit Magistrate’s Court is expected to rule on whether Rabalago violated his congregants’ rights. – 701295
CLEAR AND STRONG: CRL Rights Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva is hopeful that the judgment will send a strong warning to pastors or prophets who take advantage of the vulnerable.