Photo: SAPS

Cape Town - Comments apparently made by Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious, and Linguistic Communities (CRL) chairwoman Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva about the events at Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape are "unfortunate", parliament said on Sunday.

"Parliament has appealed for cool heads in the aftermath of the recent deplorable tragedy that befell the people of Engcobo in the Eastern Cape which left 13 people dead, including five policemen and an ex-soldier," parliament spokesman Moloto Mothapo said.

"Parliament views as unfortunate the comments attributed to [Mkhwanazi-Xaluva], who said parliament must be held to account for failing to prevent the tragedy that included the massacre of security officials at Engcobo police station in the Eastern Cape by criminals allegedly coming from a cult church in the area.

"The 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," he said.

The co-operative governance and traditional affairs 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 could not prescribe when it came 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. 

"What happened in Ngcobo police station is a pure criminal matter which is being dealt with by the law enforcement agencies. The views attributed to the chairperson of the CRL commission are disturbing, and parliament will at an appropriate time engage her in this regard," Mothapo said. 

African News Agency/ANA