Universal Church expresses concerns

Nametso Mofokeng, The Universal Church of the Kingdom of God

Phiri Cawe’s opinion piece “Coaches must use science, not muti” (Vukani, February 21) 

The Board of the Universal Church writes to express its serious concerns about this opinion piece and to place the following on record. The board takes exception to the sentence which states; “Everything has become fake. Not TB Joshua’s water or that of Bushiri or Universal Church of Baba’s Kitchen church oil could work these days”.

To associate the Universal Church with either TB Joshua or Bushiri suggests, by direct association, that the organisation conducts itself in the same manner as these people, and that is not so. The Universal Church has no association or dealings with either of these people. By associating the Universal Church with these third parties, this sentence does not constitute an opinion, but rather a defamatory statement that is devoid of any foundation.

Even if you could argue that the statement made in the article regarding the Universal Church constitutes an opinion, then it is our opinion that your “opinion” was clearly made with the malicious intent of defaming the church.The suggestion that blessed oil distributed to its members by the Universal Church is obtained from Baba’s Kitchen, is an allegation that is completely untrue, malicious, and inflammatory. This defamatory statement damages the reputation of the organisation and its members.By singling out the Universal Church to be named and shamed is a deliberate act of unfair and biased reporting.

Had the Universal Church been contacted for comment, in a fair, balanced and accurate column, it would have distanced itself from these activities.

It would also have advised where oil distributed for anointing is obtained.

There are other less obvious connections made in the column regarding people whose objective is to fatten their pockets as well as bogus witch doctors and church leaders and prophets who might be just a tsotsi from next door who do not even know who God is.By inference, a reasonable reader could understand that these statements apply to the Universal Church as it is mentioned in the content. The Board of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God requests a right of reply

Phiri Cawe responds:

I view churches as institutions and great ambassadors of the gospel with its leaders as people who know its flock including their day-to-day struggles.

I view them as institutions which should help shape not only the country but the entire world. I wrote the opinion with an open mind, and my aim was not to defame or degrade anyone.

As a God-fearing person I would never defame or undermine anyone, including Universal Church.

While I did make reference to muti, waters and oils, my reference was to them not being useful in sport because coaches should be making use of scientific coaching methods.