South African pastor Penuel Mnguni, above, of The End Times Disciples Ministries, was summoned this week to to answer charges that he fed his congregation live snakes, rats, synthetic hair and ants.
Known as the “snake pastor”, Mnguni stands accused by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) of violating the Bill of Rights by forcing his followers to perform “undignified acts” during church services.
Deputy Chairperson of the CRL Rights Commission David Mosoma said:
No religion should belittle people and undermine people’s dignity. It is unacceptable behaviour to feed the congregation rats, snakes and hair as Mnguni has done before. His actions contravene the Bill of Rights.
On Wednesday, Mnguni appeared before the CRL Rights Commission in Braampark, which was probing complaints laid against him in 2015.
Mosoma said the commission demanded information from Mnguni about his church’s background, qualifications and formal registration certificate.
One of our main concern is what exactly compelled him to feed his congregations snakes and rats. His answer to us was that his actions were endorsed by the Holy spirit.
Last year Mnguni was arrested then released on R1,500 bail after the SPCA laid charges of animal cruelty against him. Shortly after, his church was destroyed by members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.
They disrupted a service, saying they wanted Mnguni to eat the snakes and rats he had been feeding his congregation. They then burnt the tent.
Mnguni was not present at the time. Later, according to this report, he went on the run.
Although there has been much opposition to the the pastors’ unconventional style of worship, hundreds of congregants are demanding that CLR end their investigation and let their pastors exercise their freedom of religion.
The CLR, which is probing abusive and exploitive religious practices has also summoned pastor Lesego Daniel of the Rabboni Centre Ministries, who is known for inducing his congregants to eat grass and drink gasoline. Mnguni is believed to be Daniel’s understudy.