Synagogue tragedy: T.B Joshua takes victims' families shopping
The pastor of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, TB (Temitope Balogun) Joshua, took some of the relatives of the 85 South Africans killed in the church's guesthouse that collapsed on September 12 on a shopping spree on Christmas day.
Joshua was also reported to have showered the relatives with cash and gifts, a South African newspaper, Daily News reported.
One of the bereaved, 47-year-old Wonder Ndlovu, whose husband was killed in the building collapse, was among the first group to spend time with the pastor after the tragedy.
She was quoted by the newspaper as saying that she and others who visited Nigeria had a 'nice time, went shopping and stayed in beautiful hotels.'
Ndlovu stated that before they went out shopping, they were taken to the building collapse site where the televangelist was said to have laid his hands on and prayed for the relatives.
'We met with the man of God (Joshua) and he briefed us about the site visit. Wiseman Harry and other evangelists took us there; it was very emotional for me, but others were strong and comforting. I brought flowers from South Africa and laid them with my son. It is ugly. Looking at the building foundations we are convinced it was an attack,' the widow said.
She added, 'The prophet is full of surprises. After weeping, he took us to the city to see places. To our surprise, we shopped till we dropped and the bill was on him. We were having the time of our lives, forgetting the pain of the past and looking forward to picking up the pieces and moving on. Yesterday has gone by, but tomorrow is forever.
'He (Joshua) took us to a five-star posh hotel for dinner, fine food and drinks. The hotel is in Victoria Island. After chilling, we came back in his luxurious kombis. (There were) more surprises while (we were) preparing to sleep. The mamas who took us shopping knocked and presented us with N50, 000 each and they said we (must not) use all our (own) shopping money… I just sang A huna ya tshwana le yena (there's no one like him).'
According to the South African newspaper, the popular televangelist invited 44 family members of the deceased for Christmas dinner and many of them accepted.
Speaking from Nigeria, Kirsten Nematandani, a spokesman for the church based in South Africa, confirmed to Daily News that a second group would visit this month.
Meanwhile, some of the KZN families who have received invitations to meet Joshua this month said they would gladly go.
Another South African, 29-year-old Simphiwe Ngcobo, said the trip to the Nigeria would help him connect 'spiritually' with his parents, Dickie and Dennis Ngcobo. He said he was excited about the trip and would travel with a relative this month.
'It is important for us to go to the site and pay our respects to our loved ones. We have accepted their death and we are moving on. We could have gone with the first group of families but we decided to be with the family over Christmas. We have no qualms against anyone, which is why we have gladly accepted this wonderful gesture from the man of God,' he said.
Reverend Eric Myeni, whose 29-year-old son, Sabelo, died in the September 12 collapse, also accepted Joshua's invitation.
'We need to overcome what has happened by showing our faith in Christ. We can never reverse our adversity. But with hope in the lord we can overcome the pain suffered,' he said.
When our correspondent contacted the church through one of the phone numbers provided on SCOAN website, to confirm the report of the relatives' visit and the shopping spree paid for by Joshua, a lady who picked the phone said 'yes. Agency report