Fake prophets depicted in adverts won't offend 'reasonable' viewers

16 November 2017 - 12:14 By Nomahlubi Jordaan
Pastor Light Monyeki feeding a congregant the mixture of water and 'Rattex'. File photo
Pastor Light Monyeki feeding a congregant the mixture of water and 'Rattex'. File photo
Image: Grace Living Hope Ministries via Facebook

A reasonable viewer would not be offended by advertisements depicting sangomas‚ prophets and evangelists who promise to “kill the evil spirit of traffic fines”‚ an advertising body has ruled.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling comes after a complaint lodged by Peter Tamplin against the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA).

One of the commercials Tamplin complained about shows a man consulting an evangelist over traffic fines.

The conversation between the two goes as follows.

Kitso: “I need these traffic fines gone.”

Evangelist: “Fear not‚ my brother; I will bless the 95 unleaded from your car. When you drink that 95‚ it will taste like the sweet wine of glory. After that‚ you will appear in front of me and I will spray you with insect spray. I will kill dead the evil spirit of traffic fines-ah. The devil is a liar! The devil is a liar!”

Tamplin argued that the advert pokes fun at religious leader Lethebo Rabalagothe‚ the so-called Prophet of Doom who encouraged worshippers to use insect spray to cure their troubles. Tamplin said the ad sends a message to the public that faith workers are dishonest and are not to be trusted.

He said there are thousands of healers working in the alternative healing space‚ rendering invaluable services to hundreds of clients.

The RTIA argued‚ on the other hand‚ that the advertising campaign was aimed at creating awareness about its service.

The agency said the characters used in the adverts were all labelled fake. This was done to distinguish authentic practitioners from fake ones‚ and with the clear intention to protect the integrity of good practitioners.

In its finding‚ the ASA said an advert must be considered from the viewpoint of the “hypothetical reasonable” viewer who is neither “hypercritical nor over sensitive”.

“The reasonable person has been postulated as a person ‘who gives a reasonable meaning to the words used within the context of the document as a whole and excludes a person who is prepared to give a meaning to those words which cannot reasonably be attributed thereto’.”

According to the ASA‚ the advert seeks to remind people that they should use the right solution for the right problem.

“It also seeks to remind people that there are fake practitioners‚ who will not solve their problems.”

“…the hypothetical reasonable person would not be offended by the commercial and would not interpret it as making a mockery of alternative healers‚” the body said‚ dismissing Tamplin’s complaint.