Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Picture: African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Top New Apostolic Church members 'spent tithes buying properties, assets for themselves'

By Dominic Adriaanse Time of article published Sep 11, 2019

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Cape Town – Prominent New Apostolic Church

(NAC) members spent tithes buying

properties and assets for themselves, two

whistle-blowers have alleged. 

But the church had refused to release to members the findings of an investigation despite promising it would do so, they said.

In response to a Cape Times investigation, the church has admitted that a forensic investigation into its financials recommended, among others, the tightening of controls and that action be taken against individuals.

A senior official of its finance department who was implicated in the report had resigned before it could take action, and the church did not report the alleged financial mismanagement to the police, as it had to consider, “among others, the merits of a case, the likelihood of success, the cost of litigation, the likelihood of harm/damage that litigation may cause to the image of the church”, according to its advocate Mervyn Doralingo.

The alleged misuse of funds occurred prior to the amalgamation of NAC regions within southern Africa about three years ago.

Congregant Andre Oosthuizen, who previously served as a Shepherd in the Silverton congregation in Pretoria, said he had continuously pestered the church for answers following the investigation.

“After the districts joined into the new structure, we were all promised

that a forensic investigation would

be undertaken and the results

would be made known to the entire

congregation. 

"The investigation was

completed a few years ago, but for

some reason it’s being kept secret.

We have enquired into it. But they

refused to give us the results,” said

Oosthuizen. 

Those implicated were not

brought to book, Oosthuizen said,

adding that he believed there may

be more officials involved in the

mismanagement of funds. 

He added that by not acting

against those implicated, the church

was trying to protect individuals and

hide wrongdoing. 

Another congregant, who asked

not to be identified for fear of

victimisation, said he had viewed the

church’s financial statements. 

“I had requested to see the report

but was not allowed to see the final

report. After pushing, I was allowed

to see financial statements.

"There

it was clear funds were leaving

the church’s accounts for no clear

reason, and these were significant

amounts adding up to about

R8 million in irregular expenditure,”

he said. 

Church funds were used to source

large loans to purchase properties,

and some of those implicated had

sold private property in order to pay

back the money, he alleged. 

After weeks of back and forth

between the Cape Times and the

NAC, it would not share the report,

saying it would only do so if ordered

to by a court of law. 

Doralingo said a forensic

investigation had been instituted

in or around 2016 after the

international office of the church

became concerned about the

financial struggles of the church in

Joburg. 

“The report recommended the

tightening of controls and that

action be taken against individuals.

Although the ‘Johannesburg Church’

at the time functioned as an entity

using its own bank accounts etc,

the newly established entity has an

interest in the affairs of the former

church due to continuing contracts

and other legal obligations,” said

Doralingo. 

While Doralingo said that the

recommendations contained in

the report were meant to serve as a

“guide” for future conduct, it was

never intended for use by outsiders. 

The report was shared with the

leaders and discussed in a broadcast

open to all members of the church

in 2016, he said. 

Asked whether action had been

taken against the official in the

finance department, Doralingo said:

“When a preliminary report fingered

the official, he was confronted

with the preliminary findings and

allegations and was suspended from

the employ of the church while the

investigation was continuing. 

"He

resigned from the employ of the

church before a charge could be

served or disciplinary action could be

taken against him.” 

Asked about individuals

implicated in the report either

being asked to return funds or face

litigation, Doralingo said: “While the

church has put procedures in place

to ensure that church funds are not

applied for personal use, if it is found

to be the case, these funds must be

returned. 

“The reference to the church ‘not

being likely to litigate’ should not

be quoted and/or understood out

of context. If appropriate, and after

consideration of, among others, the

merits of a case, the likelihood of

success, the cost of litigation, the

likelihood of harm/damage that

litigation may cause to the image of

the church etc, a decision to litigate

might well result. 

"Where lost monies

can be recovered through other less

costly methods, these methods will

be preferred.”

However he would not

say whether this had been done. 

“As much as the church has to

be responsible in the manner it deals

with church funds, the church must

also act responsibly in disclosing

information,” he said.

Cape Times

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