CRL report creates tensions

Paseka Motsoeneng, also known as Prophet Mboro, mediating peace between members of the Katlehong community and foreign informal traders. The traders are Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Ethiopians and Somalis. The controversial Prophet is now embroiled in a bitter legal wrangle with Thoko Mkhwanasi-Xaluva, the chairperson of the CRL.

Meanwhile, in the latest dramatic turn of events in the ongoing verbal dispute between the CRL chairperson and Katlehong’s controversial Prophet Paseka Motsoeneng of the Incredible Happenings Church, both have been reported to have lodged criminal charges against each other.

Citing fears for her life and those of her colleagues and family as her main concerns, during a live morning show on Radio 702, she claimed to have received “threats” against her life. The CRL Chair was later reported to have laid criminal charges against Katlehong’s Prophet Mboro at the Hillbrow police station on Tuesday, August 8.

Meanwhile, Mboro on the other hand, is also reported to have threatened to seek legal advice and also lay criminal charges against the CRL head for “tarnishing” his name. “There have reports against me, accusing me of things I have never done, and tarnishing my integrity”, Mboro said angrily during a live telephone interview on the same Radio 702 morning show.

Mboro complained that he had been “singled out” for ridicule and public “image bashing” by the CRL chairperson in what he believes could be a personal witch-hunt and a vendetta against his integrity. “Certain leaders have received ill-treatment while others are left alone; why they are only keeping track of the things I do?” he quizzed the talks-show host during the live interview.

The preparatory investigations for their report were launched by the CRL in 2015 to probe, promote and protect the rights of cultural and religious practices, based on media reports about church congregants being abused by unscrupulous preachers and other religious practitioners.

The idea was to root out the growing exploitative practices of congregants by mainly charismatic churches and some self-anointed “prophets”. In many of the reported instances, unscrupulous preachers coerced churchgoers to eat grass, ingest petrol or paraffin and be sprayed on the face with pesticides, as well as to swallow snakes.

In some instances, certain female congregants also reported having been improperly touched and some fondled by some preachers during church prayer services. Other women even made claims of having been sexually molested and having had improper sexual advances made towards them by certain preachers.

The probe was also expanded to look into the financial affairs of the different church groups in a bid to verify their tax compliance. Because of this, all the churches were asked to submit detailed financial statements and their SARS Annual Tax Returns.

Part of the investigative process, according to CRL Chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, was to assist the Commission’s investigators to separate the churches’ religious obligations from their business operations.

According to Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, the probe was accepted and supported by almost all religious groupings, except for three. The names of the three are known to Kathorus MAIL; however, efforts to contact all of them were unsuccessful.

According to Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, who was speaking during a media briefing in Johannesburg, last Thursday, August17, said the aim of the investigation was to make sure that “those horrendous stories aren’t sustainable”.

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva confirmed that Parliament still had to approve or reject the recommendations before they could be implemented.

“If Parliament doesn’t agree, it can approach the High Court to set aside our report and recommendations.” She added that the CRL had also made recommendations in the report that faith practitioners and places of worship be registered with an accredited “umbrella organisation”.

“The umbrella organisations will report to peer evaluation committees who will report to the CRL. In this way we will build up a database of every religious practitioner and place of worship. We have to know who these people are, what they do and where”, explained Mkhwana-Xaluva.

She was also reported to have confirmed that, if the report is accepted by Parliament, the CRL recommendations would ensure that religious practitioners do not violate basic human rights and human dignity.

“We have to ensure that faith practices are subject to the Constitution.”

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said that the CRL would also ensure that religious practitioners don’t have criminal records. “Yes, people will say God has forgiven faith practitioners for their crimes. Perhaps that’s the way things work in heaven. But here we are bound by the Constitution. We adhere to the law.

“A person with a criminal record can’t work with our children. One can’t predict what could happen,” explained the Chairperson of the CRL.

Also Read: Zuma Warns Mboro

Zaid Khumalo

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