CRL seeks clarity on its powers
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) says it is not taking parliament to the Constitutional Court but wants the court make a declaratory order regarding the commission's powers.
"We are not taking parliament to court. We need the court to tell us if we did not follow procedure. We want the court to issue a declaratory order on what our powers are‚" said chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.
"We made recommendations [regarding the religious sector]. We are saying that religious practitioners must be regulated."
She said if the court finds that the CRL's recommendations are in violation of the constitution‚ they will have to decide on the next step to take.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said that CRL feels powerless that its recommendations have been challenged. "We feel powerless that we can't do what the Constitution asked us to do‚ which is to protect the rights of religious communities. We feel disempowered and yes‚ we feel this is the end of the road for us."
In its 2017 report on the commercialisation and abuse of people’s beliefs‚ the CRL recommended that every religious practitioner must be registered and fall under umbrella organisations.
It also recommended that every registered religious leader should have a location where he or she conducts religious ceremonies and this could be churches‚ homes‚ mosques‚ temples‚ mountains‚ open fields and tents.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said the commission's legal team was busy drafting papers they will file at the Constitutional Court.
"We agree with the fact that the CRL can not dictate how churches operate. The issue of regulation is at the core. There needs to be a carrot and stick situation. It happens in other professions."
She said religious bodies should regulate themselves. "We feel it's constitutional [that religious bodies be regulated]. We need the rights of religious communities protected‚" Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.
In its report‚ the CRL found that the Mancoba brothers of the Seven Angels Ministries church‚ which has been linked to last week’s Ngcobo police massacre‚ was operating as a cult.
The church was the scene of a bloody shootout last week in which seven people suspected to have been involved in last Wednesday’s attack on the Ngcobo police station in the Eastern Cape were killed by police.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said if the commission's recommendations were heeded‚ the massacre at Engcobo might have never happened. "We saw there was a crisis about to happen. We informed everyone about it."