Heaven International Fellowship church threatens legal action against CRL commission

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Azarrah Karrim
  • Last week the commission heard testimonies from former church members who levelled allegations of sexual and financial exploitation, and human trafficking, against the church and its leader.
  • The church said that it was not informed of the hearings, which the commission denied. 
  • The commission also said that they had not received a statement from the church, but was sent one to them by the media. 

Heaven International Fellowship church, in southern Johannesburg, say they are considering legal action after the public hearings held by the CRL commission into allegations of sexual and financial exploitation at the church. 

In a statement on Monday, the church said that they were not informed that the CRL would be holding public hearings, however the commission told News24 they had, in fact, informed the church. The commission also said that they had not received a statement from the church but was sent one to them by the media. 

"Our rights to sue for defamation and financial loss caused is reserved, as both the SABC and CRL have flagrantly and recklessly caused injury to the good name of the church and that of the prophet," said the church.

It also accused commission of perpetuating notions that churches lead by African people do not respect women's rights this, after the CRL held hearings into sexual abuse allegations at the church. 

ALSO READ | 'Prophet, you betrayed me by raping my wife, sister' - man testifies against church leader at CRL

"Unfortunately the aforementioned conduct of CRL seeks to exacerbate a certain public opinion that views the evangelical, apostolic and prophetic churches that are led by African leaders not to be sensitive and respectful of women's rights in it's ranks, such conduct is shameful, racist and unlawful," said the church. 

Last week the commission heard chilling testimony from former church members who levelled sexual and financial exploitation and human trafficking allegations against the church and its leader Bahlakwana Moleko, known as Samuel Paul Heaven.

"Such lack of circumspection was demonstrated when the CRL made public the alleged allegations of sexual harassment and rape without requiring, or recording, as to whether a police docket exists or not or whether the NPA has expressed an opinion to prosecute or not.

"The CRL pursues its biased and hostile attitude in an unrestrained manner in front of rolling TV cameras and with a live unedited feed on social media, when they ought to have been responsible and sensitive to the fact that the former congregants of our church may be consumed by falsehood, pettiness and bitterness as a result of a failure to ascend to the pulpit or to assume any significant role in the church or it's a ruse to cover up their culpability for the criminal offences against the church and members of the public, on [sic] their own accord," said the church. 

The church also said that the commission's conduct of these hearings was unlawful and unconstitutional.

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