Commission berates MPs over Seven Angels church

Forensic Investigators at the scene of a shootout at the Mancobo Seven Angels Ministries church, where seven men suspected of a deadly attack on police were killed in Engcobo on February 24. Picture Gallo Images / Sunday Times / Simphiwe Nkwali

The CRL warned parliament in June last year they had red-flagged Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries in eNgcobo, but no action was taken.

The failure by any organisation or people to take accountability for the eNgcobo killings attributed to Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries church continued yesterday with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic Rights (CRL) launching a broadside at parliament.

CRL chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, supported by CRL commissioners, said they had warned parliament in June 2017.

“We ran a workshop to explain to the parliamentarians what this report is all about,” she said. “Part of what we red-flagged that day was the issue of Seven Angels. We knew even at that point something horrible would happen there.”

Indeed, Warrant Officer Zuko Mbini, constables Zuko Ntsheku, Nkosiphendule Pongco, Sibongiseni Sondlana and Kuhle Metete, together with an as yet unnamed retired SANDF soldier, as well as seven people who resisted arrest are now dead.

“Professor [Shadrack] Gutto was one of the constitutional experts we took to parliament. He presented a paper to parliament on June 27, outlining the constitutionality of what we were putting on the table.”

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said she had taken a number of religious organisations to parliament, including the Zion Christian Church, “which is the biggest church in this country”.

She said: “We took a lot of other formations with us to parliament, which are umbrella organisations that said, ‘Yes, although it’s uncomfortable, something needs to be done.’ Including the Rhema Church, which was in support that something needs to happen, some regulatory framework must be put in place. They were aware this is getting out of hand.”

In terms of the constitution, as a Chapter 9 institution, the CRL has the power “to take steps to secure appropriate redress where human rights have been violated”.

The CRL is now preparing a submission to the Constitutional Court for a declaratory order as to its powers and mandate.

Everyone had to be accountable somewhere, Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.

“I can’t start up my church as a stand-alone and be accountable only to myself. You can’t control me who has opened my church with my money when I belong to no one.”

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