Engcobo murder saga brings religious sector regulation in the spotlight

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The CRL Commission says it hopes Parliament will now fast-track the regulation of the religious sector after the killing of five police officers and a retired soldier in Engcobo in the Eastern Cape allegedly by members of the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry.

Seven people including three church leaders were shot dead by the police at the church and 10 others arrested. The commission had warned that the Mancoba Seven Angels Church was a cult and a ticking time bomb.

“We hope that Parliament will fast-track our proposals to them and we hope that the nation will understand that the religious sector cannot be fighting the proposals in terms of the peer review mechanisms where they themselves can regulate the system, but through a legal framework so that people can be registered to be religious leaders and people can be deregistered if they are doing unusual things,” says Chairperson of the Commission Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.

The Mancoba Seven Angel’s Ministries has a notorious history. It was raided by police two years ago to remove children who were reportedly being prevented from going to school.

The church was being investigated following allegations of extorting money from congregants. However, one of the elders from Angel’s Ministry Banele Mancoba says they force no one to give an offering.

“We have people who come to us for help and we pray for them and when they are healed they say here is a R200 000 and we say ‘thank you.'”

The church is run by seven brothers who refer to themselves as Angels.

Mancoba says everything about the church is above-board.

“We are not forcing anyone to join the Angel’s Ministry; even those who are hiding today, it doesn’t matter. But what we are saying in the word of God, no one can change that.”

Neither the Department of Social Development, nor the Council of Churches, or the CRL Rights Commission could prevent the church from continuing its dubious practices.

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