Oct 20, 2015

Rogue pastors, healers probed

NEWS
October 20, 2015
NOSIPHO MNGOMA

Durban - A nationwide investigation has begun to smoke out religious charlatans and quack faith healers with plans afoot to get Parliament to regulate men of the cloth who prey on the gullible.

This was announced by Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, chairwoman of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities in Durban last week.

“We’ve got to a point where this was exploding all over the country and we can’t stand by while people were being emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and financially abused because of their beliefs,” she said.

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva and other commissioners were in the city on the first leg of the “investigative study” to stop the “exploitation and abuse of people in the name of religion or healing”.

This is in response to recent much-publicised incidents where congregants were made to eat snakes and grass or drink petrol. Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said their investigation would not be limited to Christians or charismatic churches, but would include traditional churches, other religions and all manner of healers.

“There are classified adverts in newspapers and on street poles where so-called doctors from foreign countries promise enlargement of body parts and to make people millionaires. The problem cuts across belief systems.”

The commission spent two days last week interviewing leaders they had summoned to appear before them.

The controversial self-proclaimed bishop Dr HQ (Hamilton) Nala, whose faith water was claimed to cure HIV/Aids, did not turn up.

Instead he sent his legal representative to tell the commission he was travelling and not available, said Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.

Nala and others who were absent had four weeks to gather the required information and present it when the commission returned to Durban.

As a statutory institution, the commission had the power to lay charges against a person who failed to appear as summoned.

The commission signed a memorandum of understanding with the National House of Traditional Leaders to get local chiefs to alert them to any such activities in their areas.

Announcements would be aired on radio and television, calling on people to come forward.

“The intention is that we want this sector to be regulated. It can’t be business as usual.

“Some people go as far as re-financing their homes to make offerings demanded by their pastors. They are sold holy water and anointed oil. It’s ordinary water and oil that has been prayed for being sold at a mark up. Is it value-added with prayer?”

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said some healers were equally dubious. “Sometimes people can be duped as far as to do ritual killings.

“Look at the murder of the woman with albinism, one of the people arrested for her murder was a pastor,” referring to Bhekukufa Gumede who had allegedly convinced his three co-accused that muti mixed with the body parts of a person with albinism would make them rich.

“It’s a big pool of illusion and deceit,” the chairwoman said.

The commission was working with Unisa’s psychologists and sociologists to research why people allowed themselves to be swindled.

“There must be something wrong with our people psychologically for them to believe these promises; they must have reached a certain level of desperation to make them so gullible as to eat snakes and embrace things they would otherwise run away from,” Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.

She believed this was “a major crisis” and as the commission was in the business of protecting the religious, cultural and linguistic rights of South Africans it would push for regulation.

http://beta.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/rogue-pastors-healers-probed-1933051
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