CRL apologises for summons on commercialisation of religion

Religious leaders were summoned to hearings after videos of congregants ingesting snakes and petrol emerged.

CRL Chair Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva briefied media on the outcome of the proceedings. Picture: Masego Rahlaga/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Religion watchdog Commission for Rights of Cultural, Religious & Linguistic Communities (CRL) has apologised to church leaders for serving them with a summons which stated they had to attend hearings or face a year behind bars.

The hearings are to investigate the commercialisation of religion and the abuse of people's beliefs, after videos showing pastors from different churches making congregants drink petrol and eat snakes.

WATCH: 'Snake Pastor' dodges media during court appearance

Pastor Lesego Mosuoe and Archbishop Stephen Zondo appeared before the commission today, while Prophet Paseka 'Mbhoro' Motsoeneng sent his legal team to represent him.

Church leaders who have been summoned before the commission expressed their anger at being told they will face jail time if they refuse to appear.

But commission chair, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, says leaders have been consulted.

"Summons tend to agitate people, but I must say that when people appear before us they might come in agitated; we have tried to send a second set of documents to assure people."

Archbishop Zondo, of the 'Rivers of the Living Waters' church, says he will comply with the commission and hand over all the required documents.

"The CRL apologised and they assured us that there was no crime committed by us."

The commission wants leaders present documents including annual financial statements dating back to 2012, bank statements and proof of ordination.

The hearings have been postponed until 16 November.