‘Many churches launder money’

International Pentecostal Holiness Church spokesperson Oupa Mosalakae responds to questions by the CRL Rights Commission in Johannesburg on Thursday. Picture: Nigel Sibanda

Of the 18 644 registered religious organisations in the country, 10 718 have failed to comply and many are involved in money laundering.

The department’s director in nonprofit organisations (NPO) information & registration management, Mpho Mngxitama, on Thursday told the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities that noncompliance was “extremely high” in the religious sector.

Gauteng has the highest number of registered religious organisations with 7 840, followed by KwaZulu-Natal (3 359), Western Cape (2 003) and Mpumalanga (1 296). Noncompliance in Gauteng came to 4 604 institutions, in KZN it was 2 179, Western Cape 1 115, and Mpumalanga 559. Mngxitama said although most religious organisations did not comply by submitting their annual reports, the department only sent them letters threatening deregistration.

But deregistration was not done because of an instruction “from the minister to go out there to help them to comply”. She said there “has never been a concerted effort by churches to comply” and compliance had proved to be a “monster for us”.

The department has not stopped its operation and constantly sends offenders text messages reminding them to comply. According to Mngxitama, religious organisations were not compelled by law to register, but often did so if someone promised to give them money when they had proof of registration.

Although they were NPOs, the groups normally registered as a Public Benefit Organisations, said Mngxitama. Mngxitama said many gaps needed to closed, but this was proving difficult. She told the commission that when religious organisations were registered, department officials did not visit or investigate them as they did not have the power to do so.

Church has no membership details

Despite reports that the International Pentecostal Holiness Church under the late Reverend Samuel Modise boasted a membership of 3 million, its national spokesperson on Thursday said the organisation does not know the actual number of its followers. The church was formed in 1962 by Modise in Meadowlands, Soweto, after he was led by the Holy Spirit to do so.

The movement believes in healing and miracles and its headquarters, which were opened in Zuurbekom in 1991, were inaugurated by the former apartheid president FW de Klerk. The church is led by Modise’s son, Comforter Glayton Modise, and on Thursday he was summoned to appear before the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities to present his church’s financial and bank statements.

He was represented by nine leaders from the church as his doctor had booked him off due to “being overworked”. Modise was reported to have blessed 400 weddings last year at a once-off ceremony.


today in print

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