Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Churches want code against cons

Religious leaders across South Africa are wanting the adoption of a code of conduct in response to incidents where “false prophets” have raised concerns across the country.

The code, which is currently in draft form, is expected to be discussed and adopted at a national consultative conference in October. The development comes after calls within church communities for regulation of the sector because of alleged cons.

This week, yet another scandal was created after “resurrection” pastor Alph Lukau claimed to have raised a man from the dead. A video, shot at Lukau’s Alleluia International Ministries church in Sandton, shows the pastor standing over a seemingly dead man, dressed in a white suit and lying in a coffin. Lukau places his hands over the man’s body and suddenly he sits up in the coffin, allegedly “resurrected”.

The church initially backed Lukau’s version of events, but has since claimed that the man had already been brought back to life prior to the pastor’s intervention.

While South Africans have reacted to the saga with both humour and astonishment, churches around the country, including the Rhema Family Churches, have responded with disappointment.

“We have seen the exploitation of people, and the sexual and emotional abuse of people — all these and many other things have tainted the image of the church and put us in a very bad light,” said Reverend Ray McCauley of the Rhema Bible Church North in a statement.

The Council of African Independent Churches also voiced its dismay, with deputy general secretary Bishop Thami Ngcana saying the incident was “clearly staged”.

Pastor Giet Khosa, a member of Rhema Bible Church, was the organiser of the Religious Summit held on February 13. It was at this summit, attended by almost all major churches and leaders, where a code of conduct was drafted to take action in the sector so that there is an “accountability system” in place.

“We gave draft copies of a code of good practice and a code of conduct so they can go and discuss it with their local churches and their structures,” Khosa said.

“We’re hoping that, out of that code of conduct, we can hold people accountable. Whether you have signed it or not, it doesn’t matter. You will be held to account,” Khosa said.

The summit took place after two powerful church leaders, Shepherd Bushiri and Tim Omotoso, faced charges of money laundering and sexual assault respectively. There was also “prophet” Lethebo Rabalago of Mount Zion General Assembly Church, who sprayed insecticide in congregants’ faces.

Lukau was not at the summit. “People like that don’t attend these meetings,” Khosa said.

While the code of conduct is expected to deal with how pastors should behave and how they must be trained, it does not yet have any measures in place to discipline pastors found guilty of misconduct. Khosa says, however, that there “will be a disciplinary process”.

Legal experts will also weigh in on the document before it is finalised.

“What we are encouraging people to do is that when they are seeing people in the communities that are [suspicious] … you can contact us or you can go to the police. People must not be quiet,” Khosa said.

Lukau faces charges after a bishop in Hartbeespoort accused him of fraud and three funeral parlours opened a case against him at Jeppe police station. The parlours allege that they were misled into providing their services. The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities is also summoning Lukau to make a statement under oath for its own investigation.

The pastor continues to post Bible verses on social media. Images and videos showing the pastor living a seemingly luxurious lifestyle of high-end cars and private planes have since emerged.

For Khosa, who hopes that a system of self-regulation may avert dubious figures from entering the sector, it is the religion and its followers that remain the most exploited.

“You’ve got to ask yourself what is the motive behind this. The motive is [that] people want to make money out of people. Then if you see people are being raised from the dead, the person will say, ‘give me R50 000, I’ll raise your uncle from the dead.’ Fortunately, this thing didn’t go that far,” Khosa said.

Planning for the national consultative conference is currently under way.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Raeesa Pather
Raeesa Pather
Ra’eesa Pather is a Cape Town-based general news and features journalist.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

Cape Flats gangsters, children die in fight over turf

Extortion rackets are part of a corrupt system that includes religious leaders, councillors, police and syndicates

Tobacco farmers want the taxman to do more to control...

The Black Tobacco Farmers’ Association the introduction of a minimum price level for cigarettes

More top stories

South Africa moves back to adjusted level 3, schools to...

Vaccination capacity to be increased as the government announces financial support measures for those affected by Covid-19 restrictions and the recent civil unrest

Water sector to clean up its act

The Blue and Green Drop programmes are being relaunched to rebuild SA’s often poorly maintained and ‘looted’ water systems

Afforestation can hinder fight against global warming if done wrong,...

A simplistic approach to tree restoration without not properly accounting for the complexities of plant and atmosphere interactions can cause problems

Carbon tax to align to UN treaties

Amendments to offset regulations published on 8 July give clarity on big emitters carrying old carbon credits to a new framework

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…