TV Christians hold on to disabled man’s donation

His wife begs them to return it so she can feed her children

An evangelical TV network, with its own DSTV channel, has been accused by the family of a mentally ill person of refusing to repay his pension money he donated to the station.

The family of Manjo Maphuma, a former Gauteng policeman who now lives in Mdantsane and has been diagnosed with a mental illness, said Bhisho-based Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) has rejected their calls for the money to be repaid.

TBN: The Blasphemy Network

Trintiy Broadcasting Network (TBN), led by founders Paul and Jan Crouch, is the world’s largest religious TV network. It claims to be a Christian ministry. However, while some legitimate ministries and teachers (those who adhere to the orthodox teachings and practices of historical Christianity) appear on TBN, the network promotes such an incredible amount of heretical material – including extremist Word-Faith teachings – that it is often referred to as “The Blasphemy Network.”

Maphuma’s wife, Nomathemba Zita, said despite numerous attempts by her to convince the the Christian TV and radio station to return the payments, which her husband has been making to TBN over seven years — including a R90000 cheque — TBN’s former station manager and director Bernard Roebert has refused to do so.

Zita said her husband, who signed a debit order with TBN, had donated almost R200000 to the church. The Daily Dispatch has seen a number of the receipts from TBN.

Roebert is the father of Andre Roebert, the chief executive of the River Ministries Corporation, which is closely linked to TBN and various other business ventures.

Yesterday, attorneys acting for the Roeberts vehemently denied the allegations.

But Mdantsane Magistrate’s Court controlling officer Alfred Ntsokolo also said Roebert Sr rejected various calls by him, asking that Maphuma’s money be returned. Ntsokolo intervened after Zita approached him for assistance.

Ntsokolo said he had made several calls to Roebert to ask for Maphuma’s donations be repaid to his wife.

“Unfortunately, I received a raw deal,” he said.

“He (Roebert) was very rude to me and said if the lady (Zita) wants to go to court she must do so.

“He told me as far as he (Roebert) was concerned, Maphuma was of a stable mind.”

Ntsokolo said his advice was that Zita should approach the court for the appointment of a curator bonis.

In a medical assessment, which Zita requested from Cecilia Makiwane’s Mental Health Unit, psychiatrist Dr Kiran Sukeri wrote that Zita has been concerned about her husband’s “injudicious disposal of their income”.

Zita, who lives in Mdantsane’s NU15 and often works nightshift at a Wilsonia factory, is the sole breadwinner for her husband and two teenage sons.

Sukeri said Maphuma was diagnosed with paranoid psychosis in 1986 by CMH’s Dr Tony Pentz.

He has been admitted to CMH on six occasions and once to Komani Hospital in Queenstown.

He was also seen by a psychiatrist at the Soweto Clinic.

During his last admission to CMH in 2006 his diagnosis was revised to schizo-affective disorder.

During this consultation, the consulting psychiatrist advised that a curator bonis be appointed to manage Maphuma’s affairs due to his mental illness.

Sukeri noted that Maphuma also had a history of poor compliance with treatment which complicated his continuous management.

Zita also approached East London attorney Thembekile Malusi of Malusi & Co. Malusi wrote to TBN but received no response. He instructed counsel but Zita cannot afford the money to proceed.

“I need the money to buy food and pay for my children’s education,” she said.

When the Daily Dispatch visited their home Maphuma was reading from five Bibles and TBN material. He felt it was all right to give all one’s money to God. “You don’t have to be cautious when you give money to God,” he said.

TBN is presently awaiting a ruling from the Independent Communications Authority of SA after it had applied for a renewal of its broadcasting licence.

TBN stated that it was experiencing financial constraints and used its cash funds to operate and requested Icasa to include the Nelson Mandela Metropole in its broadcasting and advertising area.

TBN has also informed Icasa that it could not divulge the identities of its donors as they wished to remain anonymous.

After a question by Icasa licensing officer Victor Grootboom, it was also revealed that Roebert received a salary of
almost R500000 when he was station manager of TBN. He has since been appointed as the station’s ambassador in Africa.

Roebert’s response: We know nothing about it

Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Bernard Roebert said during the time that he has been associated with the network there has been only one incident in which he received a complaint from a woman who claimed her husband was not aware of what he was doing when he made a donation.

In a letter, written by attorney Chris Abdo on behalf of TBN, Roebert said the incident happened about three years ago.

He said later that same day he received a call from the donor who instructed him to ignore the woman caller, saying they were divorced and that he knew what he was doing.

Roebert said he had received no further communication from anyone regarding this matter.

He also said he had no knowledge of any written communication addressed to TBN alleging that he had
refused to repay monies received from a mentally ill person.

Neither was he aware of anyone else at TBN being approached in connection with this matter.

In his response, Andre Roebert said he knew nothing about the matter. He was not involved in the donations being made to TBN, which is a Section 21 company for non-profit. He was also not a director of TBN.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
Daily Dispatch, South Africa
July 11, 2007
Eddie Botha

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This post was last updated: Thursday, July 19, 2007 at 10:44 AM, Central European Time (CET)