Johannesburg - Tiger Brands has joined the storm of outrage over a pastor who uses one of its products in his bizarre healing practices.
The company has warned that the actions of Prophet Lethebo Rabalago pose health risks for congregants and that he must stop using Doom to “heal” them.
Pictures of the pastor's shocking healing methods spread on Monday. It also emerged that he cuts congregants with knives.
Rabalago, of the Mount Zion General Assembly in Limpopo, also burns their hands.
Rabalago, who said God mentored him to be a pastor, is also known to feed his congregants what he refers to as “poisonous aloe”, which causes them to foam at the mouth. All of these practices are pictured on his Facebook page, where he proudly shares his unusual methods.
After the images of Rabalago using Doom went viral on Monday, his practices sparked a national outcry and condemnation.
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission), Tiger Brands and other worried parties lambasted him.
Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said they were filled with “shock and repugnance” towards the practices.
“As a commission, we categorically state that no one should be subjected to conditions that are detrimental to their health and wellbeing,” she said.
The commission has been holding hearings with leaders of various churches regarding complaints of charlatan practices and the commercialisation of religion.
The hearings were convened after a public outcry over the increase in what has been seen as ungodly practices, including those by a Tshwane pastor who fed his congregants snakes and grass and made them drink petrol, as well as putting them in a freezer and driving over them, among others.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said of the Limpopo pastor: “(We) strongly condemn these actions and practices by some of these religious leaders” but assured the public that ultimately the recommendations contained in the report would “go a long way to address these kinds of issues”.
The commission has undertaken a study to investigate the commercialisation of religion and the abuse of people’s belief systems.
Tiger Brands spokesperson Nevashnee Naicker was scathing of the pastor, saying they found his practice “alarming and extremely concerning”, and emphasised that it was “unsafe to spray Doom Super Multi-Insect Killer, or any other aerosol spray for that matter, into people’s faces”.
“Doom has been formulated to kill specific insects which are detailed on the cans, and the packaging has very clear instructions and health warnings for humans, which must be adhered to. Using this product for purposes other than what it is intended for poses health risks and is therefore dangerous,” said Naicker.
She also warned that “if Doom Super Multi-Insect Killer is sprayed into your face, you need to wash your face and/or wash out your eyes immediately and avoid inhalation”.
“If you are exposed to excessive contact, you may feel nauseous and light-headed,” she warned, adding that they were contacting Rabalago to get him to stop these practices.
The ACDP also condemned Rabalago. The party called for the public to protect gullible and innocent people who take part in such abuses.
“The police have said they cannot charge these prophets’ as the congregants who ingest petrol, are sprayed with Doom and forced to eat rats and snakes do not lay complaints,” said ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe.
“We call on legal experts to advise the police on how to proceed, as deliberately endangering another person’s life is against the law.
“There is video evidence on these cases. We must use existing law to protect the innocents,” he added.
Amid the backlash against him, Rabalago was unperturbed. He was adamant that he stood by his belief that God was working through him.