The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) said on Thursday that the religious sector should be regulated to protect citizens from formations like the controversial Seven Angels church in the Eastern Cape.
During a media briefing at the CRL Rights Commission offices in Johannesburg, chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi Xaluva said systems needed to be put in place to prevent those who are not fit to be religious leaders to be stopped.
“A legislated mechanism would have been able to declare them as non-religious and their license would have been taken away.”
Xaluva said the CRL Commission knew and notified parliament that the Seven Angels church was dangerous, but had no powers to stop them and the time had come to protect citizens.
“We ran a workshop in parliament to explain the report to explain red flags. We knew at that point that something horrible would happen there if nothing was done with Seven Angels,” Xaluva said.
“All we’ve ever said is that there must be a regulatory framework put in place to avoid such things from happening.”
The Seven Angels Ministry made headlines last week after seven suspects were shot dead during a shoot-out with police on the church premises, while 10 others were arrested at the church. This followed the deadly attack on the Ngcobo police station two days earlier in which five police officers and a soldier were killed, allegedly at the hands of a gang who hid away at the church.
“I clearly said that if nothing is done, people are going to die.”
Meanwhile, in a video clip, one of the pastors of the church can be seen saying that he and his brothers are angels sitting at the right hand of God and that Satan was hiding in the education system, hence they were against children going to school. He further added that the constitution was also satanic.
Xaluva said while meeting with the brothers, the commission felt it was a form of extremism and a “cult-like” situation. She said their findings were included in their report.
“Their major violation was that children were being kept there and could not access school and education, some didn’t have birth certificates because they didn’t believe in such things. We were happy when the Eastern Cape social department acted on the situation.”
The chairperson of the CRL said when adults give up all of their goods and go live at a church there were no laws to protect them as it was not seen as illegal.
Xaluva stressed that there was no law from stopping the church from duplicating as there was no law deeming such a church illegal.
– African News Agency (ANA)