A prominent pastor is embroiled in a R4 million scandal linked to the purchase of a church building.
A formal complaint of suspected corruption, maladministration, misuse of funds and assets, illegal disclosure of information and nepotism has since been lodged against Reverend Carl Hendricks of Crystal Ministries International with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission), the City of Joburg and The South African Revenue Service (Sars).
It is alleged that in 2004 members of Crystal Ministries International in Aeroton, Johannesburg north, put down a deposit for the church property, which was later purchased for about R4 million.
Instead of registering the building under Crystal Ministries, Hendricks allegedly listed it under Eagle Creek Investments 157 Pty Ltd. It is alleged that he initially was the sole owner of Eagle Creek, but he changed ownership after queries within the church.
Through Eagle Creek Investments, Hendricks now leases the premises to different businesses, though he claims the rental payments go to the church’s bond. The City of Johannesburg confirmed that it had completed an investigation into Hendricks while papers before Sars showed an investigation in progress.
According to papers before the heritage commission, Hendricks allegedly registered Eagle Creek for “religious purposes” and thereby “misled the City of Johannesburg in order not to pay rates and taxes, yet he charges tenants rates and taxes”.
Hendricks explained that banks did not offer loans to churches, therefore Eagle Creek had to be registered as a private company to secure a loan from the bank.
He said the bank offered them a loan of R4 million in 2004. He said the second loan obtained in 2014, was entirely for renovation and they used the balance from the previous loan for renovations.
But sources said Eagle Creek was formed as an investment wing for the church and to benefit members. Other allegations that surfaced are the personal usage of Crystal Ministries’ bank account by Hendricks, such as for renovations to his house and his domestic worker’s wages.
The complaint before the commission reads: “His house has been renovated in 2010-11 and invoices for material has gone either through Crystal Ministries International or Eagle Creek Investments’ 157 accounts.
The labourers that build [sic] his house have been paid through Crystal Ministries’ account and he has benefited. If Nkandla is a scandal, then this is a ‘Pastorgate’.”
Hendricks said renovations for his own property were paid from the church’s account, but claimed he had loaned the church R500 000 which had not yet been settled.
With the account not being settled, Hendricks said, renovations to his own house were paid for from the church’s bank account.
Asked where he obtained money to loan to the church and whether he could provide proof, Hendricks got irritated and yelled: “Go do what you have to do. I am not prepared to talk about this anymore.”
He acknowledged he did not pay his domestic worker who was employed by the church from his own pocket. He claimed there was nothing wrong with the domestic worker being paid from the church’s account.
Other accusations are that Hendricks also receives hundreds of thousands of rands from the congregation every December. Hendricks, however, denied receiving a pastor’s pledge every year in December. He said he once got a car as gift and he had since stopped congregants from giving him gifts due to the recession. This was also dismissed by sources close to the situation, alleging even in 2013-14 he was still receiving a pastor’s pledge.
The City of Joburg has threatened to terminate the services of Eagle Creek Investment 157 Pty Ltd under Reverend Carl Hendricks and Crystal Ministries International if it fails to settle its debt of more than R1 million. Papers seen by The Citizen show that Eagle Creek Investment 157 owes the City of Joburg a total amount R611 983.74 for services.
An amount of R555 867 is still outstanding for sewage and water and R56 116.74 for refuse. A reliable source from the City of Joburg said an investigation against Eagle Creek was instituted when they realised there was an error and that something “was fishy there”. The city’s spokesperson, Salmond Loyd, said the investigation against Eagle Creek had been completed.
“Credit control action has been taken and the city has issued a pre-termination notice and will proceed to terminate services if debt remains outstanding.” Loyd said their records show that Eagle Creek is the registered owner of the property and not Crystal Ministries. “From July 1, 2013, the property was categorised as business and commercial, and rates were levied accordingly.
The category of property for this property was amended to business and commercial in August 2015, with a retrospective effective date of July 1, 2013,” said Loyd. Asked whether debt has been settled, Loyd could only say: “Due to the confidentiality clause between the city and its customers, we are not allowed to issue such personal detail. However, we can confirm that down payments have been paid towards the debt but the account is still in arrears.”