Guest Column

Cults thrive amid poverty and joblessness

2018-03-11 00:00
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The country has been rocked by the horrific story of the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry, a so-called church in the Eastern Cape town of Engcobo, whose members allegedly massacred five police officers at the town’s police station.

The church was led by seven brothers – called angels by their congregants – three of whom died during a gun battle with elite police units the week the police station was attacked.

What has since emerged, however, is that the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministry is anything but a church, and its leaders are certainly not angels.

It was a cult that barred children from attending school, brainwashed members and preached that the Constitution was written by the devil. The cult required members to cash in their pensions, sell their homes and cars, and hand the proceeds over. After that, they sat and waited for Jesus to arrive.

City Press reported that, on the morning after the raid, police rescued at least 100 women and girls from the cult. Today, we bring you the news that 40 of those women were kept as “wives” of the brothers. Eastern Cape police confirmed that about 30 of them were younger than 25, and that most had one or two babies and toddlers.

The state knew about this cult – it removed 18 children from it two years ago. Parliament also knew. The cooperative governance and traditional affairs portfolio committee received a report from the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic Communities chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, warning that the cult was a ticking time bomb. Still, legislators declined to act, saying freedom of religion is enshrined in the Constitution.

We may marvel at how people can be so gullible and allow themselves to be preyed on like this, but the sad fact is that cults always find fertile ground in environments of poverty and unemployment, where the desperate are easy pickings.

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