The recent developments around the religious practices by different faiths in South Africa is far reaching especially this month when the country is reminded of the respect to Human Rights. The National Heritage Council of South Africa (NHC) has learned with embarrassment the practices that were purportedly going on in various churches. The latest incident that is associated with the Eastern Cape Province’ Seven Angels Ministry in Engcobo where five lives were lost is a sad tragedy. It calls on us the citizens to reflect deeply.
The report by the Commission of the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural and Linguistic Communities (CRL) was noted by the NHC and the efforts to intervene applauded. The Commission has done its best under the unbearable circumstances of sensitivities and threats.
It is important for the way forward that the religious sector considers how to establish form and structure. The greatest need is to allow the practitioners themselves to craft and enter a charter of how to respect the Human Rights and dignity of the people that they serve. It will therefore be prudent to have a public consultation with the representative bodies of the different religious and faith communities including African spirituality.
While the focus is on the religious sector, the cultural community also have practitioners whose traditional practices are also affected. Many of these practitioners have not been consulted. Fortunately, they have sector bodies such as for example the Traditional Healers Association, etc. Their contribution to shape the form and structure of how best self-regulation can be achieved is critical.