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Strict regulations must be put in place to stop the commercialisation of religion and abuse of people’s belief systems‚ says the commission which investigated the matter.
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic Communities released its final report on the commercialisation of religion and abuse of people’s belief systems on Tuesday and is adamant that religious practitioners must be regulated and licensed.
“It is the poor and desperate people who are hooked and are fed all kinds of things. If someone says to you drink this and something will happen and you want that thing‚ what can you do?” said the commission’s chairwoman‚ Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva‚ in Braampark‚ Johannesburg.
The investigative study kicked off in August 2015 after media reports exposed several pastors for allegedly feeding people snakes‚ grass‚ rats‚ human hair‚ pieces of cloth and petrol‚ among other things.
Over the months it emerged that there were church leaders allegedly pouring boiling water over congregants‚ spraying people with Doom‚ placing them in deep freezers and another supposedly driving a car over them in a “demonstration of God’s power”.
In its findings‚ the commission found that the laws in place were not protective of people.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said peer review committees and umbrella bodies would be established to ensure that all religious practitioners were registered and dealt with accordingly should they break the law.
“Umbrella organisations will be accredited and religious leaders will have to be affiliated to bodies that speak to their religion. The CRL will accredit these bodies and will ensure that practitioners are vetted‚” she said.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said among their recommendations was that the South African Revenue Services should conduct “an in-depth investigation into tax evasion by religious practitioners” and that this should be done in partnership with the commission.
Source: TMG Digital.