The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) says it is shocked to hear about two pastors who gave congregants harmful liquids to drink as part of their healing.
“As a commission we categorically state that no one should be subjected to conditions that are detrimental to their health and well-being,” chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said in a statement on Friday.
Her statement follows reports about Prophet Phumzile Topi who allegedly gave his congregants a liquid substance to drink which caused them to vomit and collapse in Mthatha and Prophet Rufus Phala from Makgodu in Limpopo who made his church members drink Dettol antiseptic liquid.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva also urged religious leaders to submit responses to the commission’s report so that proposed legislation on a peer review mechanism in the sector can be expedited before “anything horrible” happens to anyone.
Meanwhile, the Inkatha Freedom Party has called on the commission to investigate the increase in the number of pastors and prophets who use dangerous chemicals claiming they are healing people.
The party’s national chairperson Blessing Gwala said the commission should investigate whether those involved in these “bizarre activities” were really pastors and whether they had violated any human rights.
Congregants urged to read user instructions
“We know that it is dangerous to use such chemicals for human consumption.
“We are aware that people are doing this voluntarily due to their religious beliefs but we would like to urge them to read the user instructions of any products used by their pastors on them.”
He said people’s safety should be prioritised when using chemicals considered to be dangerous to human health.
“It must also be investigated whether these prophets and pastors are hiring people to do abnormal things pretending to be the acts of the prophecy or whether people are driven by desperation for survival which makes them seek miracles to change their lives,” Gwala added.
Another unorthodox pastor from the Mount Zion General Assembly made the news recently when he claimed that spraying Doom – a household insecticide aerosol brand – on his congregation would heal them.
Other recent cases have involved pastors claiming to have received messages from God calling for congregants to perform acts including biting live snakes and rats, eating their own hair and drinking petrol. This would help them heal or eradicate their woes, the pastors claimed.