CRL Commission asks pastor to apologise

Pastor Bobby Perumal

Pastor Bobby Perumal

Published Mar 8, 2024


The Cultural, Religious and Linguistic (CRL) Commission has ordered Pastor Bobby Perumal to give a written and video apology to the Hindu community, acknowledging the hurt he had caused through his hate speech and religious intolerance.

Perumal’s utterances were reported to the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the CRL by several organisations and individuals, including the South African Hindu Maha Sabha and social cohesion advocate, Raj Govender.

In December last year, Perumal was delivering a sermon at the Queensburgh Congregational Church when he said that the Shiva Lingum was a demon, invading Europe with yoga.

A video of his sermon went viral on social media.

Perumal further told the congregation that a woman from Phoenix “was suffering badly with a spirit coiled up on her wishbone” and the spirit was a demon.

He said the woman was experiencing pain because she had helped her neighbour make vedas (a traditional Indian savoury snack) for a Hindu celebration.

He went on to call the celebration devil worship.

Perumal said there were also some churches promoting yoga for exercise, and he referred to this as being the work of the devil.

After its investigation, the CRL proposed the following resolutions to Perumal:

1. He provides a written and video apology to the Hindu community, acknowledging the hurt caused by his statements.

2. He attends education and awareness programmes conducted by the SA Hindu Maha Sabha and other similar organisations, to deepen his understanding of Hindu beliefs and practices.

3. He undergoes cultural sensitivity training to better respect and appreciate the diversity of cultures and religions in society.

4. He is obligated to participate in inter-faith dialogue sessions to foster understanding and harmony among the different religious communities, and

5. Engage in collaborative initiatives with religious leaders from diverse faiths, promoting mutual respect and co-operation.

Perumal made the apology this week.

In the video he said: “I place on record my sincere apologies with regard to the incidents that occurred on December 23, 2023, at a church gathering at the Congregational Church of Queensburgh. I acknowledge that my utterance caused religious outrage following the statements that were made.

“I sincerely apologise to the Indian community by referring to Lord Shiva as a demon. I am very sorry and gravely remorseful. I firmly promise never to repeat this again in the future. I regret my actions by bringing yoga to disrepute. Yoga has nothing to do with Lord Shiva and Hinduism,” he added.

He said yoga was a lifestyle and not a religious practice.

“I also sincerely apologise to the Indian community for labelling Hinduism practices as devil worship. I am deeply sorry. I would like to place on record that I will recommit myself and will endeavour to firmly support and uphold the code of ethics and vision of different organisations of faith.”

Raj Govender said these resolutions aimed to address the harm caused by Pastor Perumal’s words, and promote healing and understanding within the community.

“We appreciate the efforts of the CRL Commission in addressing this matter and hope that these actions will contribute to greater respect and harmony among all religious groups,” said Govender.

Ashwin Trikamjee, the Maha Sabha president, said: “It is such a pity that all this had to happen; initially the pastor should have been more responsible in his utterances. Although he is saying sorry there is still a mistrust - he is apologising because his back is up against the wall.

“Nevertheless we accept the apology and we hope other people will learn from this and be more cautious when making statements because we will not take it lying down”


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