Johannesburg - The Heaven Fellowship Church has accused the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic (CRL) Rights Commission of being “unrestrained, reckless and biased” after the hearings into allegations of abuse were live streamed last week.
The Star reported last week that former congregation members of the church in Meyerton laid bare startling allegations of rape against the church’s leader, Bahlakwana Moleko, known as Samuel Paul Heaven, during hearings into allegations of abuse. One witness accused Moleko of allegedly raping her twice in October last year.
The hearings at the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural Religious and Linguistic Communities were heard following complaints that were brought before it by victims and congregants.
In a letter to the CRL Rights Commission on Monday that was sent to The Star by Moleko, the church accused the commission of failing to notify the International Heaven Fellowship Church that the church and Moleko would be mentioned in the proceedings.
“Failure or omission to have given notice to the church and the prophet implies that the CRL was intentionally on a sojourn to unlawfully defame the name of the church and that of Prophet Paul Heaven,” the church wrote.
The commission, however, said the church had been notified about the hearings and would be given an opportunity to appear before it to respond to them later.
“People out there must not see this commission as wanting to bash pastors. It’s not about that,” commission chairperson Professor Luka David Mosoma emphasised during the proceedings last week.
The church accused the Chapter Nine institution of not conducting the proceedings with circumspection and restraint. The church added that this was demonstrated when the allegations of sexual assault and rape were livestreamed on social media platforms and national television without inquiring whether cases at the police existed.
In response to the sexual assault and rape allegations, the International Heaven Fellowship Church said Moleko has appeared before the police and that the church was constrained from making public comments until the National Prosecuting Authority had made determinations.
The church added that the CRL Rights Commission had acted in an unconstitutional manner as if it had the mandate to “persecute a certain body of Christ”.
“The CRL’s unrestrained, reckless, biased disposition against the evangelical, apostolic and prophetic churches has assumed a racial and xenophobic slant, as it appears its treated as non-South African, and that’s unlawful,” the church said. It accused the commission of pursuing a “hostile and biased attitude” in front of rolling television cameras.
CRL Rights Commission spokesperson Mpiyakhe Mkholo told The Star on Wednesday that the commission had seen the letter from the church, however from The Star and other publications and not the church.
“The Commission can confirm that correspondence about the hearings was indeed sent to the Pastor,” he said.