Pretoria - Controversial Pretoria prophet Penuel Mnguni must be found and should appear before the Religious and Linguistic Rights Commission to explain why he made his congregants eat rats and snakes.
The commission said it had been searching “high and low” for the prophet and head of the End Times Disciplines Ministries, who was last seen when his Soshanguve tent church was burnt down last August.
Pastors and religious groups have to appear before the commission to explain how they conduct their services and the reasons behind how they do things.
The deputy head of the commission, Professor David Mosoma, said summons for Mnguni had been ready since last year.
“But the sheriff was unable to deliver them as Mnguni no longer resides at his address since the burning of his church,” he said.
“The sheriff has gone back numerous times to try to have the summons issued to him, with no luck. We are appealing to the public to help us find him.
“He must come and tell us why he is making people eat snakes and rats.”
Mosoma said the idea behind the investigation was to better understand how the various denominations operated.
“Religious organisations have to register with the Department of Social Development.
“There are currently about 18 000 registered organisations, but we believe there are many more,” said Mosoma.
He said the organisations were simply requested to submit documents such as how they were registered and who authorised them.
The qualifications of the leaders and financial operations were also required. The commission also sought to determine if there was a commercialisation of the religion involved.
“We have pastors out there advertising that they can heal the body or sell water that will do so and so. They must show us how that works.
“We are serious about wanting to facilitate an information sharing platform so that people are not taken advantage of.”
When all religious organisations countrywide have been consulted and relevant information assessed, it will be forwarded to Parliament.
However, Mnguni has not been able to account for his worshipping ways because his whereabouts are unknown, Mosoma said.
Mnguni vanished after community members and the EFF interrupted his church service and burnt down his tent. The EFF had said it wanted to force him to eat snakes.
Photos of him getting married appeared on social media a few weeks later, followed by unconfirmed reports that he died after being bitten by a cobra he was using for another round of miracles in his ministry.
The SPCA later laid charges of possession of indigenous protected snakes and cruelty to animals against him in July.
He was released without appearing in court, pending further investigation. Both police and the SPCA have not heard of him since.
The Facebook page of End Times Disciplines Ministries remains active, but has no photos of “miracles” anymore.
The latest posts are mainly of photos that appear to have been manipulated, including others showing Mnguni riding lions.
There is also a warning about people who are doing the rounds requesting donations on behalf of End Times Disciplines Ministries.
Another of the latest posts read: “We’d like to advise that prophet Penuel and End Times Disciples Ministries do not have church branches. Should anybody claim that, know that it is false.”
With Mnguni still missing, the commission will move to KwaZulu-Natal to hold further presentations and hearings there. Mosoma added they had not given up hope of finding the prophet.