TBN South Africa claims to be in financial troubles, so no refund for mentally ill man

Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the Bhisho-based Christian TV and radio station, cannot refund donations it received from a mentally ill diagnosed pensioner because it is allegedly running at a financial loss.

This is according to River Ministries’ Andre Roebert, who is also chief executive of TBN Africa.

“TBN in Bhisho does not have that money,” said Roebert during a meeting with the Daily Dispatch on Wednesday.

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“A director of the cash-strapped Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) still received lucrative payments for three years after the network’s overseas funding had been stopped. […] Details about the remuneration to Pastor Bernard Roebert surfaced when Icasa licensing officer Victor Grootboom questioned TBN over its claim that it has suffered financially since Icasa in 2003 stopped the funding it received from its mother organisation in the United States.”

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.”

Last year the newspaper reported that the family of Manjo Maphuma, a former Gauteng police officer who now lives in Mdantsane and has been diagnosed with a mental illness, said TBN had rejected their calls that the money be repaid.

His wife, Nomathemba Zita, said her husband had been making numerous donations to TBN over seven years — including a R90000 cheque.

Maphuma was first diagnosed with paranoid psychosis in 1986 by Cecilia Makiwane Hospital psychiatrist Dr Tony Pentz.

Roebert, however, disputed this and said TBN’s Bhisho board went to visit Maphuma to ask him what his status was and whether he wanted the money back. “He told us under no circumstances do you give the money back. It was a gift to TBN.”

This week, Zita said that she was struggling to maintain their two children, who are both students, on her R2000 a month salary. She has since approached the Legal Aid Board to have a curator appointed who could handle her husband’s financial affairs.

River Ministries’ financial director, Greg Clur, said if TBN — a Section 21 company for non-profit — returned the money to Maphuma it could contravene both income tax and company laws. However, tax experts at PriceWaterhouseCoopers told the Daily Dispatch that a Section 21 company was exempted from paying tax and could repay the money without any tax implications.

Roebert said returning the money could also have other moral implications for a body such as the church. He said people who made earlier donations and later fell onto hard times may ask for their money back.

• Original title: TBN in financial crisis, says CEO. So we can’t refund mentally ill man’s cash, he says

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday February 4, 2008.
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