Andrew Thomson, of Church-on-Main in Wynberg, said yesterday: “We feel completely broken at any risk or harm we may have presented.”
Smyth is a former head of the Justice Alliance SA, which describes itself as “a coalition of corporations, individuals and churches committed to upholding and fighting for justice and the highest moral standards in South Africa”.
Earlier, Thomson told his congregation that “a fair number of people … have had moments of counselling and group discipleship with John”.
“If our having had John as a leader of a discipleship group or his role in any form of ministry has led to hurt or risk to anyone, or to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ into disrepute in any way, for this we apologise,” Thomson said.
He said he had advised Smyth to fly to the UK to face the consequences for allegedly beating 22 teenagers at camps held between 1978 and 1982 at Winchester College in Hampshire.
Smyth’s son, PJ Smyth, said: “These are horrific allegations and if proved true it is right that my father face justice.”
“In my 20s I gradually became aware that there had been issues surrounding my father’s ministry in the UK. But I assumed that it was something minor and it never occurred to me to press my father for detail.”
PJ Smyth, in a letter to his congregation at Covenant Life Church in Maryland, US, said his father “disciplined me in a manner consistent with the laws and cultural trends of the UK at the time, not in a manner alleged in recent reports”.
Thomson said Smyth, 75, and his wife, Anne, “met to counsel individuals, predominantly young men of university-going age”.
He said church elders had told the former Justice Alliance of SA leader to “admit, if necessary, to any accusation that holds substance and apologise, asking for forgiveness and mercy”.
The church has asked the Smyths to stay away until the allegations of “terrible misconduct” against the retired judge are resolved.
A TV documentary last week reported that Smyth left the UK for Zimbabwe in 1984 after a hushed-up report by a church charity linked him to beatings at Winchester College.
The couple, who have left their Bergvliet home, failed to respond to requests for comment.