Government plans to introduce legislation to regulate faith-based organisations in South Africa, in an effort to cut down on religious leaders who are making millions of rands through legal loopholes.
According to a report by the Cape Argus, the new legislation will be heard in parliament in June 2017 following an analysis of the public complaints and interviews by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission).
“We are not disputing that there are still some good religious leaders out there, but as a country we are also faced with a challenge of people who run churches like family businesses and no one questions them on how the church’s money is spent,” said Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi- Xaluva.
“We also have those who abuse their power and make congregants do all sort of things like drinking petrol and eating snakes. We can’t have things like that happening but they will continue if the industry remains unregulated.”
According to Mkhwanazi- Xaluva, the commission found numerous examples where people are expected to pay substantial amounts of money before blessings and prayers. It also found numerous other prima facie cases of commercialisation of religion including blessed water and oils are sold to congregants and leaders who would only offer services if a fixed amount is met.
The announcement arrives a day after hundreds of thousands of people flocked to a private farm in Bloemfontein to listen to popular evangelist Angus Buchan conduct a prayer meeting.
According to the Argus, numerous well-known figures were in attendance including Mmusi Maimaine, wife Natalie, TV personality Michael Mol and ACDP leader Kenneth Moshoe.
— Jackie (@ByHisGrace4eva) April 22, 2017
Correction – a previous version of this article, as reported by the Cape Argus, claimed that Angus Buchan owned a private jet. This is not the case.