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CRL Commission: Monitor, don't close, foreign churches

An online petition called the Total Shutdown of Foreign Prophetic Churches in SA has received more than 6,000 signatures since it was created earlier this month.

A screengrab of Pastor Timothy Omotoso in the Port Elizabeth High Court.

JOHANNESBURG - Cultural rights organisation CRL Rights Commission has rejected calls for so-called foreign churches to be shut down, saying all religious institution need to be monitored.

An online petition called the Total Shutdown of Foreign Prophetic Churches in SA has received more than 6,000 signatures since it was created earlier this month, by the time of publication of this story.

The petition was launched against the backdrop of Nigerian televangelist Timothy Omotoso's rape and human trafficking trial in the Port Elizabeth High Court.

The petition is said to be in support of Cheryl Zondi, one of the women who testified against Omotoso and many other victims of so-called “foreign prophetic churches” based in South Africa.

It calls for the government to close these churches in a bid to avoid the victimisation of congregants.

But the commission’s Edward Mafadza says it is not true that victimisation happens only at so-called foreign churches.

“There are also local churches where members are also complaining. So, are we also going to close those ones?”

He says all churches that break the law should be reported to the commission.

“Those that actually abuse the members, what we are saying is that we don’t what such things taking place whether a church is owned by a foreigner or local.”

The commission is in the process of taking its fight to the Constitutional Court for a ruling on where freedom of religion is limitless.

_You can click here to access the petition.

_(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)