ac­count A body that forces churches to

This is to pro­tect the rights of those who are ex­ploited in the name of re­li­gion and tra­di­tion

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Bonolo Sekudu

THE Joburg mayor, Her­man Mashaba, has been call­ing for clo­sure of the count­less churches in the in­ner city and sub­urbs. The mayor said some churches are worse than tav­erns. The is­sue of re­li­gious, un­holy prac­tices and gross deal­ings within churches is of great con­cern. Far too many South Africans are cry­ing foul at how many churches have be­come detri­men­tal to the lives of be­liev­ers. The Com­mis­sion for the Pro­mo­tion and Pro­tec­tion of the Rights of Cul­tural, Re­li­gious and Lin­guis­tic Com­mu­ni­ties (CRL Rights Com­mis­sion) is one or­gan­i­sa­tion that is fight­ing tooth and nail to pro­tect the con­sti­tu­tional rights of those who suf­fer all in the name of re­li­gion.


Last year, was quite a busy year for the CRL Rights Com­mis­sion, it found it­self hav­ing to stand in the gap to de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tional Rights of or­di­nary cit­i­zens. The chair­per­son of the com­mis­sion, Thoko Mkhwanazi Xaluva, says the body is a con­sti­tu­tional in­sti­tu­tion es­tab­lished to pro­tect and pro­mote the rights of cul­tural, re­li­gious and lin­guis­tic com­mu­ni­ties. The CRL Rights Com­mis­sion must:

Pro­mote and de­velop peace, friend­ship, hu­man­ity, tol­er­ance and na­tional unity among cul­tural, re­li­gious and lin­guis­tic com­mu­ni­ties, on the ba­sis of equal­ity, non-dis­crim­i­na­tion and free as­so­ci­a­tion. ■Pro­mote re­spect for and fur­ther the pro­tec­tion of the rights of cul­tural, re­li­gious and lin­guis­tic com­mu­ni­ties. ■To rec­om­mend the es­tab­lish­ment or recog­ni­tion of com­mu­nity coun­cils in ac­cor­dance with na­tional leg­is­la­tion of cul­tural or other coun­cils for com­mu­ni­ties in South Africa.


Hor­ror rev­e­la­tions in churches called for the CRL Rights Com­mis­sion to step in. One of the churches that shocked South Africa was the Seven An­gels Church in eNg­cobo, Eastern Cape. Af­ter a bru­tal shoot­ing at the eNg­cobo po­lice sta­tion that left sev­eral po­lice of­fi­cers dead, seven mem­bers of a gang be­lieved to have car­ried out this bru­tal­ity were shot and killed by the po­lice at the church. Po­lice tracked down the sus­pects, killed seven and ar­rested ten of them. Three of the de­ceased were brothers linked to the lead­ers of the Man­coba Seven An­gels Min­istry.


It later emerged that the church lead­ers – all brothers – be­lieved that they are an­gels sent to earth by God. Over 100 girls and women, said to have been sex slaves, were res­cued dur­ing a po­lice raid at the church. Some of the girls were as young as 12 years old.

The pri­est of the church ap­peared in court on charges of rape and sex­ual ex­ploita­tion. The church was dubbed a cult. Al­le­ga­tions of sev­eral sex­ual vi­o­la­tions against var­i­ous pas­tors are some of the things the com­mis­sion had to con­front in re­cent times.

“I con­tin­u­ously suf­fer ver­bal abuse from some of the re­li­gious lead­ers. The CRL Rights Com­mis­sion, un­der my lead­er­ship, has been push­ing for the re­li­gious sec­tor to be reg­u­lated so that the con­gre­gants can be pro­tected from fi­nan­cial, spir­i­tual, emo­tional and sex­ual abuse,” Thoko says. Chill­ing tes­ti­monies of Nige­rian Pas­tor - Ti­mothy Omo­toso, where young girls were al­legedly lured to his house and made to per­form sex­ual acts on him sur­faced. One of the young girls who tes­ti­fied against Pas­tor Ti­mothy said he made her and the other girls be­lieve that he had a close con­nec­tion to God and, there­fore, they did what the pas­tor asked be­cause they felt that they were obey­ing what God wanted them to do.

In 2017, Pas­tor Paseka Mot­soe­neng, bet­ter known as Pas­tor Mboro, claimed to have taken self­ies in heaven and was sell­ing those pho­tos for R5 000. Some be­liev­ers be­lieved him. “My main con­cern is the level of des­per­a­tion in peo­ple’s lives that makes peo­ple so vul­ner­a­ble. The is­sue of un­em­ploy­ment, poverty and in­equal­ity causes peo­ple to be vul­ner­a­ble and gullible,” Thoko says.


While CRL Rights Com­mis­sion may fight tire­lessly for cit­i­zens to be treated in a just way, it can’t make them change their be­liefs.

“The great­est chal­lenge has been to try and stop the abuse of peo­ple’s be­lief sys­tems and the com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion of re­li­gion and cul­tural spa­ces. This in­cludes stop­ping ad­verts in news­pa­pers about fake tra­di­tional heal­ers who make prom­ises of their pow­ers to heal and falsely promis­ing peo­ple to get rich,” she says.

“This has also in­cluded abus­ing cul­tural prac­tices, for in­stance, ukuth­wala (bride ab­duc­tion) which has been abused by peo­ple who abuse girls and young women.” Thoko will be fin­ish­ing her term at the CRL Rights Com­mis­sion soon but will not give up on pro­mot­ing th­ese val­ues she has been ad­vo­cat­ing for over the years as part of the com­mis­sion.

“I will be giv­ing my time and en­ergy to con­tinue work­ing and high­light­ing the abuse of peo­ple in sa­cred spa­ces and the vi­o­la­tions that take place there,” she says.


The CRL Rights Com­mis­sion says they would like to see ma­jor pol­icy changes that will make their man­date a lot eas­ier to ful­fil. “I would like to see the reg­u­la­tion of re­li­gious and tra­di­tional heal­ing sec­tors in the coun­try that will al­low for a peer re­view mech­a­nism in both sec­tors in or­der to dras­ti­cally re­duce or to­tally elim­i­nate the abuse in th­ese sec­tors,” she says.

“We are con­fi­dent that with the cur­rent po­si­tion taken by the re­li­gious sec­tor in sup­port­ing our pro­pos­als we will get full co­op­er­a­tion from both Par­lia­ment and gov­ern­ment,” she adds.

Prophe tP aseka ‘Mboro ’M ot­soe­neng hande dhi mself over to th epo lice on 21 Septem­ber 2017, af­ter the com­mis­sion opened two cases against him

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