Sexual abuse at religious institutions more rife than you think - CRL

2018-04-05 17:28
CRL chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva  (Photo by: Jabu Kumalo)

CRL chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva (Photo by: Jabu Kumalo)

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WATCH: We knew 6 months ago something horrible would happen at Seven Angels - CRL

2018-03-02 10:34

The CRL Rights Commission said they had raised red flags about Seven Angels Ministry in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape as early as last year. Watch. WATCH

Sexual abuse complaints against religious leaders are "more vast than we thought", the chairperson of the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) Rights Commission said.

Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva was speaking at a dialogue for young people, who had suffered abuse at the hands of traditional and religious leaders.

She said the system was supposed to protect people from abuse by religious and traditional leaders but that there were gaps in the system.

"They target people. They stay with them relentlessly until they get what they want," she said.

"There are no limits here. People exploit them on their own beliefs… to unbelievable lengths."

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva added that there were many challenges in the religious and traditional healing sectors because people tended to trust those leaders.

"When you are in a holy environment, you believe that everyone wants to do the right thing… but, because of the setting, you might not be able to say: 'No, this is wrong'."

READ: Churches are not supposed to be hospitals, says CRL Rights Commission

She added that victims were both male and female and that many were too scared to speak out.

"The majority [of these survivors] are not looking to go through the criminal justice system for obvious reasons.

“Some of them want to remain anonymous, because they don't want their families to know," she said.

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva recalled some cases including those of Nigerian pastor Tim Omotoso, who was arrested last year after he was accused of sexual abuse, as well as the February murders of police officers and a soldier in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape in which the Seven Angels Ministry, which has been described as a cult, has allegedly been implicated.

ALSO READ: CRL Rights Commission to go to ConCourt after Ngcobo massacre

"When these people do wrong things, they do such horrible things."

She also said several religious leaders throughout the country have been arrested for similar crimes.

Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said: "We need to start [asking]: 'How do we resolve this?'"

Read more on:    crl  |  religion  |  crime  |  sexual abuse

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