The South African government has threatened to sentence the founder of Christ Embassy; Pastor Chris Oyakhilome to jail if his church fails to release its financial records, News24 reports.
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities said it is investigating the commercialization of religion and abuse of people’s beliefs and had summoned several churches to appear before it with their ordination certificate, registration certificate, bank statements, and annual financial statements from 2012.
The Commission noted that several religious leaders in the country could be sent to jail if they fail to comply with its directive.
Head of the commission, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said the decision to toll the legal line was because some of the church leaders had failed to comply with the directive.
“Some of these religious leaders will face prison if they do not comply and we have been clear about our course of action,”
“Some religious leaders have also threatened the commission, which is leading us towards the legal route,” Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said.
According to the report, Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said Oyakhilome, had indicated interest in taking legal action so as to stop the commission from forcing it to open its books.
Christ Embassy had earlier sought an extension of time to enable it review its financial records.
Mkhwanazi-Xaluva noted that the commission was also considering filing charges of intimidation against religious leaders who had publicly threatened the commission.
Wondering why some pastors would take money from their followers, yet refuse to provide their financial records, she said, “These people take money from people.”
“What are they doing with that money? We want to know. We will not back down.
“If Oyakhilome intends on that route, we are ready. He will have to face the same fate as the others who refuse to hand over their financial records.”