Church scandals that left SA shooketh in 2018

WARNING: Graphic content. Not for sensitive readers

27 December 2018 - 09:00 By Ntokozo Miya
Pastor Penuel Mnguni is a controversial figure, famous for feeding his followers snakes and rats.
Pastor Penuel Mnguni is a controversial figure, famous for feeding his followers snakes and rats.
Image: Image/Facebook/End Times Disciples Ministries

The rise of unregulated charismatic churches in South Africa has resulted in people being exposed to preachers who often dominate the headlines. And it’s not always good news.

Some problematic church practices led the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) to conclude that "there must be a regulatory framework”" to curb undignified and sometimes criminal activities in houses of God.

In 2018, there was no shortage of scandalous conduct linked to churches.

Mancoba Seven Angels Church

In February, leaders of the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry were involved in a bloody shootout that left five police officers dead. A retired soldier and three Mancoba brothers were also killed. 

Police recovered stolen firearms on church premises and arrested six men for the murders of law-enforcement officials.

Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry members who were arrested in connection with the murder of five Ngcobo policemen appear in the Ngcobo Magistrate's Court on June 14 2018.
Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry members who were arrested in connection with the murder of five Ngcobo policemen appear in the Ngcobo Magistrate's Court on June 14 2018.
Image: Image/Sikho Ntshobane

End Times Disciples Church

Penuel Mnguni first came under scrutiny in 2015, when images of him feeding congregants what appeared to be a live snake went viral. 

In another incident, Mnguni’s followers were treated to rat meat. 

In October, Mnguni’s propensity to feed people animals saw him allegedly put dog meat on the menu. 

Pictures of a dog being cut up were shown to congregants at the End Times Disciples Ministries.
Pictures of a dog being cut up were shown to congregants at the End Times Disciples Ministries.
Image: End Times Disciples Ministries Facebook

A video posted on the End Times Disciples Ministries Facebook page showed Mnguni promising that anyone who suffered from "HIV, diabetes, cancer and whatever" would be "healed". 

He declared that his prayers had turned the dog meat into "the flesh of Jesus Christ".

Shepherd Bushiri

Controversial "prophet" Shepherd Bushiri is known for his lavish lifestyle, but he  attracted the attention of the Hawks only after churvh members reported him.

Leaders at his Enlightened Christian Gathering Church claimed Malawi-born Bushiri was sending about R15m to his home country each month.

The accusations came after Bushiri allegedly intimidated his staff when they demanded payment for helping him perform "miracles".

"People are bought to testify. They are bought to act sick and crippled, and later give testimony that they were healed by prophet Bushiri," said a Hawks official. 

The Hawks are investigating Bushiri for money-laundering.

Anglican Church 

In March, the Anglican Church of Southern Africa came under the spotlight when four people came forward with claims of sexual abuse.

The incidents were alleged to have taken place in the church’s dioceses during the 1970s and 1980s.

"It is clear from the experiences reported in the past few weeks that we are lagging in our care for victims of abuse," said Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

In October, the church adopted a new policy to protect congregants. Makgoba said anyone who wanted to be ordained would have to supply the church with a police clearance certificate.

Timothy Omotoso

Leader of the Jesus Dominion International church, Timothy Omotoso, can certainly be counted among this year’s biggest newsmakers.

The "man of God", fondly referred to by his followers as "Daddy", was arrested in April last year.

Omotoso and his co-accused, Lusanda Solani and Zukiswa Sitho, face 63 charges, including rape and human trafficking.

Social media rallied behind Cheryl Zondi when she testified about allegedly having been raped by Omotoso from the age of 14.

Omotoso’s defence counsel, Peter Daubermann, would later apply to have judge Mandela Makhura recuse himself from the case, accusing the judge of being "overly sympathetic" to Zondi. 

That application was dismissed. 

Pastor Timothy Omotoso in the Port Elizabeth High Court on October 22 2018. He and two co-accused face 63 charges, including rape and human trafficking.
Pastor Timothy Omotoso in the Port Elizabeth High Court on October 22 2018. He and two co-accused face 63 charges, including rape and human trafficking.
Image: Image/Eugene Coetzee/The Herald
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