CRL awaits court’s rul­ing

The New Age (Western Cape) - - News - TNA RE­PORTER

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

PIC­TURE: HER­BERT MATIMBA

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.

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