Despite the scorching heat, a small group of people turned up to attend a march against false prophets on Wednesday, calling out those who abused their power in the name of religion, reports News 24.
Carrying a placard that read “sex in the pulpits”, Alfred Mokoena said he joined the march because he wanted to support the victims of “fake prophets”.
“It worries me and it happens a lot in churches where leaders abuse their power. That is why I am here,” he said.
Mogape Mwatse said: “I support the cause because I have seen abuse in the church. I was a former youth leader and things like sexual abuse, financial abuse and management issues, they are happening.”
On Wednesday, around 70 people gathered at the Joburg Theatre and marched to the offices of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious‚ and Linguistic Communities and those of the South African Human Rights Commission (situated in the same office park) to hand over their memorandum of grievances. The numbers dwindled as the march progressed.
The facilitator of the march, journalist Solomon Izang Ashoms said the march was aimed at putting pressure on the commissions to investigate false prophets.
“I am Nigerian and a lot of my fellow citizens that are here [in this country] as pastors are not doing what they are meant to be doing.”
Malawi-born prophet Shepherd Bushiri was on Tuesday successful in his urgent high court application to stop the march organisers from defaming him.
According to an IOL news report, Judge Elizabeth Kubushi interdicted the organisers of the march and Martins Antonio from defaming Bushiri during the rally and online.
The court reportedly also interdicted Antonio, Ashoms and Charles Farai from alleging on their Facebook profiles that Bushiri had allegedly engaged in extramarital affairs, or from making statements linking him to criminal conduct such as rape or the exploitation of women, especially his female congregants.
Antonio’s attorney, Elliot Buthani, said: “The judge said we must go to the march as planned… He (Bushiri) wanted us to publish an apology and the judge said Antonio and others owe no one an apology.”
In a press statement released ahead of the march the organisers say “the march is to say ‘enough is enough’ in regards to sexual abuses, rape, manipulations, deceptions etc, which many Christians have experienced in the hands of false prophets”.
“Recently, we very well remember the case of Pastor Tim Omotoso who runs a church in Durban and is currently in prison for allegedly trafficking young girls. There is also the Seven Angels Church incident, an alleged cult which members killed six policemen and housed many women recently, and many more,” says the press release.
Ashoms says “The country and Christians have been quiet about the atrocities happening within the four walls of the church, we will fail society if we don’t do anything about it”.
According to the press release the marchers included nine women from Klerksdorp (North West) who were abuse financially and sexually by a bishop with some of them nursing his children today.
“I was raped by my prophet whom I have known and served for many years, despite my husband being his spiritual son and I, his spiritual daughter. Today, I am a mother of a 12 year old child, a product of the rape. I trusted him” says one of the victims quoted in the press release.