Limpopo cults flagged as 'ticking time bombs'
Two more religious cults have been red-flagged as ticking time bombs by Rights body, the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL).
Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, chairperson of CRL, said the churches were in Limpopo. She said, however, it was still very difficult to identify the cults in that province. The police have been asked to investigate.
“We’ll find out once we’ve met with the police. It should be next week when they give us a report back as to what this is and what it looks like. Does it look like a cult, does it look like a church?” Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.
She said it was important to include the youth in this discourse because mostly young people are found at these churches. The commission held a discussion last Friday with religious leaders and experts on the prevalence of cults in the country in order to find ways to protect people from being enticed into joining such groups.
“When you go to these churches, you find young people. There’s something happening with young people, with young women. There are more women who are young who are involved, and I'm glad there are young women here.
“They can help us understand this thing we are struggling with as to how one gets to that stage where they are ready to pick up anything and everything for this young man.
“And these religious leaders are very young, around 21 and 22 years old. And they are running big churches and doing all sorts of things.”
Professor Maria Frahma-Arp of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Johannesburg said cult movements appear the world over and have appeared at different times in history, and the prevalence of cults is largely due to socio-economic circumstances.
“People use unorthodox belief systems to improve and better themselves. In Africa, it’s common knowledge that one of the ways to make money is to start a church. Many of the people we’ve spoken to said they couldn’t find work so they started a church. But it speaks to the disenfranchisement and sense of disempowerment of the people around them.”
At heart, this is a very complex and complicated issue, says Frahma-Arp, adding that it was very difficult to try to pin what is the voice of the divine.
“We look at when is someone a legitimate prophet and when he is someone abusing people. When a religious movement is life-giving it is good, but when it begins to destroy people, relationships and families, then we’re starting to move into an area of a cult movement.”
According to Frahma-Arp, signs of a cult include opposing critical thinking, isolating members and penalising them for leaving the church, emphasising special doctrines outside scriptures, seeking inappropriate loyalty to their leaders, dishonouring the family unit and separation from the church.
The Sunday Independent