Disgruntled congregant found guilty of intimidation

2017-02-21 15:04
Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva. (Lucky Nxumalo, Daily Sun)

Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva. (Lucky Nxumalo, Daily Sun)

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Johannesburg – A disgruntled congregant, who threatened the life of the chairperson of a religious and cultural protection group, was found guilty of intimidation by the Hillbrow Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

The court found Koabeng Qhobela, 50, guilty on counts of intimidation, crimen injuria, a failure to respond to a court summons, and the obstruction of justice, after he threatened the chairperson of the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) for pursuing an investigation into The Revelation of God Church last year.

Qhobela, a congregant at the church was peeved with the chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva and the CRL Rights Commission for opening a case against the church's leader, Prophet Samuel Radebe.

He stormed into the commission's office in Braamfontein and warned Mkhwanazi-Xaluva of the dangers of pursuing an investigation against Radebe.

Qhobela sent threatening emails to the commissioner, warning her that a "dark cloud" would engulf her life if she continued the investigation.

Radebe was one of the religious leaders summoned last year as part of an investigation probing the abuse of religious beliefs, and the commercialisation of religion.

He was summoned to provide the church' s financial statements, but failed to appear before the commission in November last year.

'There is a rule of law in this country'

The Revelation of God Church boasts 40 branches nationwide, four in Mozambique, five in Zimbabwe, and one in Malawi; with another being launched in Atlanta in the US in April. It also boasts more than 30 000 likes on Facebook and has its own YouTube channel and live online TV and radio streaming service.

The CRL is a Chapter 9 institution dealing with community issues around religion, language and culture

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva told News24 that she hoped the finding would send a strong message to religious leaders and their congregants that they could not threaten the head of a Chapter 9 institution.

"We would like to ask the religious leaders and their congregants to co-operate and respect the laws of this country, not to violate the laws. Being a leader does not mean you should not comply with the laws of the country," said Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.

"It makes it difficult when something you are championing is referred to as you doing the work of the devil or being a servant of Satan. It’s going to make our job easier, the threats will be less.

"He [Qhobela] was just a sample of what is out there and the insults coming from the churches and the congregants directed at me personally and the CRL in general. For some reason they think you can insult people for doing their job without realising that there is a rule of law in this country," she said.

'Needs to spend some time in jail and cool off'

The commissioner said that, despite anger over the outcome from the congregants, the Constitution and law had to be respected, saying that they should allow the law to take its course.

"We will be asking the magistrate for a custodial sentence because we feel he [Qhobela] needs to spend some time in jail and cool off, and show his fellow congregants that you cannot do this in a country where the Constitution is everything that stands between us and chaos," said Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.

Qhobela’s bail was suspended, and he is in custody until his sentencing on March 3. Radebe still has not appeared before the commission and has refused to do so, despite mediations and summons.

"We did lay charges against him for violating section 41 of the CRL Rights Commission Act. We are waiting for the prosecutors to do what needs to be done. We are ready and willing to go to court on his matter as well," said Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime  |  religion

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