Parliament 'disturbed' by rights commission's accusations on eNgcobo

2018-02-25 22:18
Crowds gathered outside the church cheer as bodies of deceased gunmen are removed by the police forensics team. (Supplied SAPS)

Crowds gathered outside the church cheer as bodies of deceased gunmen are removed by the police forensics team. (Supplied SAPS)

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Cape Town - Parliament on Sunday said it was "disturbed" by "unfortunate" comments made by the chairperson of the CRL Rights Commission blaming Parliament for allegedly not acting to avoid the eNgcobo massacre.

What happened at the Ngcobo police station in the Eastern Cape was a pure criminal matter which was being dealt with by the law enforcement agencies, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said on Sunday.

The institution was reacting to comments attributed to the chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva told City Press on Saturday that Parliament should answer for the eNgcobo shooting that left 13 people dead, including five policemen and a retired soldier.

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Seven suspects were shot dead and ten others were arrested at the Seven Angels Ministry church after a shootout with police on Friday night. Three Mancoba brothers, who were church leaders, were killed during the shooting.

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said she had interviewed the church leaders in 2016 during her investigation into church practices and made the parliamentary committee aware of her “serious concerns” in October last year.

“Here we are now as a nation. Who must answer? Parliament must answer. We gave them a report last year. We’ve done what needed to be done. It’s up to Parliament to protect innocent people," Mkhwanazi-Xaluva told City Press.

“We are living with this nightmare. We should not be waiting for [spurious religious leaders] to do something crazy. We are leaving this in the hands of Parliament. It must pass legislation. We are dealing with people who are a hundred times more dangerous.

“No one listened to us. This could have been avoided. We told them we cannot have a sector that is not regulated.”

'Poor understanding' of Parliament's mandate

Mothapo said Mkhwanazi-Xaluva's comments demonstrated poor understanding of the constitutional mandate of Parliament and "its relations with the Chapter 9 institutions that only make recommendations to Parliament and not prescribe".

"The committee (on cooperative governance and traditional affairs) is finalising consultations with all role players as it is also preparing its recommendations to the National Assembly on the recommendations of the CRL," Mothapo said in a statement.

Mothapo said the portfolio committee had convened a meeting with all religious, cultural and linguistic sectors who were unanimous with the committee on the constitutional provisions of freedom of religion and that the state cannot prescribe when it comes to people's beliefs and religious convictions.

"The session also unanimously condemned the abuse of people's vulnerabilities by religious leaders, while also acknowledging that there are sufficient legal provisions for dealing with criminal activity in South Africa irrespective of where it occurs, in church, in homes and workplaces."

He added that the views attributed to Mkhwanazi-Xaluva "are disturbing, and Parliament will at an appropriate time engage her in this regard".

Read more on:    crl  |  ngcobo massacre  |  crime

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