Resurrections, eating snakes, drinking petrol, abductions and rape were just the tip of the iceberg of atrocious activities under the guise of religion.
For this reason the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, or CRL Commission, is desperately calling for the regulation of religious and traditional practitioners.
In this regard, chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva assured South Africans that the commission would be summoning Joburg pastor Alph Lukau to explain his abilities of resurrection.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said she did not understand why the traditional and religious sector was not being regulated like other professions.
Speaking on the last day of the 4th National Consultative Conference at the St George’s Hotel in Irene on Wednesday, Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said there was a desperate need for regulation regarding the religious sector, and for some form of peer review mechanisms to be put in place.
“South Africa right now is the wilderness and that is why we are witnessing these deplorable acts, abuses and hoaxes. There must be regulation that will control traditional healers and religious leaders as it is a profession like any other. Everyone has someone who controls them except for the religious sector. We’ve allowed the risk to grow and grow.”
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said that during the two-day conference they were given a mandate by more than 600 traditional and religious leaders on what the commission had to focus on within the next five years.
Most importantly was the need for regulation and the protection of the culture of virginity testing despite the call by the United Nations to ban the practice.
Regulation was also proposed for initiation schools and churches, but also for the criminalisation of the use of the term “witchdoctor” when referring to traditional healers.
Closer monitoring of paid broadcasts and media reports was to be prioritised, as well as issues of places of worship, like caves, being violated in favour of boosting tourism.
The commission also wants to ensure that South Africans are able to practise their religious practices irrespective of where they live.
Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize kicked off the conference on Monday.
He stated the need for the conference to deal with the number of incidents the country had witnessed in the past years.
He said people’s lives were being placed at risk under the cloak of religion.
He referred specifically to incidents involving Pastor Lesego Daniels of Rabboni Centre Ministries, who was captured on camera making congregants eat grass and drink petrol in 2014.
He also referred to Penuel Mnguni of End Times Disciplines Ministries, who was chased out of Soshanguve after videos of him feeding his congregants snakes surfaced in 2015.
“Society as a whole, not just government, must unite to protect people from any abuse or psychological, physical, sexual, financial or any form of exploitation.
“Such abuse or exploitation is an infringement of people’s right to worship or practise their faith or religion.”
Guest speaker Professor Tinyiko Maluleke said when unscrupulous pastors were witnessed performing so-called miracles, it happened even before the grotesque scenes.
He said he believed the problem existed due to the conceptualisation of God and the place of leader.
“People are so desperate for hope that it has become a scarce commodity. These prophets and fake leaders are supplying for the demand.”
This was especially significant as he said the victims often were people like the 4million plus youths stuck in unemployment and an even greater number of South Africans who were stuck in poverty.
“It’s those people who are desperate for hope and they are even willing to part with their last cents.
“Those who will never be able to afford a medical aid seek healing from these churches.”