Pretoria – Civil rights movement #NotInMyName on Tuesday cautioned the South African public to avoid getting swayed by “staged miracles”, as pictures and videos of a man purportedly being resurrected by popular Johannesburg preacher, Alph Lukau continue to trend on different social media platforms.
“South Africans have the right to follow any religion of their choice, that is enshrined in our Constitution. Our problem starts when the so-called men of God start inventing schemes that dupe our people through blatantly staged miracles and fake acts of healing. That, we cannot allow to thrive in this country,” #NotInMyName secretary general Themba Masango spoke to African News Agency (ANA).
“Increasingly, religion is becoming worryingly hijacked by all manner of wolves in sheep’s clothing in South Africa. To protect citizens, caring authorities and government departments must be able to stand and factually disprove these acts of fake miracles because if left unchallenged, millions of innocent citizens will be duped of their hard-earned money.”
Regarding the movement’s recent brush with equally popular Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader, Shepherd Bushiri, #NotInMyName emphasised that it was in a campaign against “African churches”.
“We can tell you that #NotInMyName is led by highly religious individuals who are regularly in church services. Having said that, we are a mass-based organisation which cannot ignore the massive cries of the voiceless in our society. Our campaign on engaging Prophet Bushiri is fully on course, and the discussions are positive and brotherly,” said Masango.
“From the onset, #NotInMyName was clear regarding the positive role played by the ECG church – particularly to local, domestic tourism in Tshwane. What we cannot do is to focus on the financial gain, at the detriment of our women. Right now, we are very upbeat because even Prophet Bushiri himself showed clear understanding of the gravity of the matters levelled against him, and many of the men who hang around him.”
Last week, Bushiri called on #NotInMyName to work with him to address the massive allegations of sexual misconduct raised by women in his vast congregation.
"Upon being told of the [#NotInMyName] statement and its contents, the founder of ECG International, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri immediately tasked the leadership of the church to engage NIMNSA so as to get more light, as their allegations were not specific – and more information was required from our side so that internal processes of investigation may begin, and those implicated face disciplinary actions," said Bushiri's spokesperson Maynard Manyowa.
A team of three emissaries has been dispatched to meet with #NotInMyName and engage them. The church has also invited #NotInMyName to conduct its own investigations and has committed to granting them full access to the church, its followers and leadership so they perform a thorough investigation.
Manyowa said the ECG membership has been encouraged to cooperate with #NotInMyName "and if there any victims amongst them, they are also encouraged to raise any issues with #NotInMyName".
The civil rights group had sharply criticised Bushiri, accusing him of taking advantage of several women within his church.
“As South Africa’s most vibrant, recognisable civil rights movement, #NotInMyName has been approached by women – former and current congregants - of the Enlightened Christian Gathering who, in strict confidence, narrate their ordeals at the hands of the so-called man of God and his many lieutenants,” said Masango.
African News Agency (ANA)