Pastor in hiding as St John’s Church denounces Pongola preacher’s mix of beliefs

2014-07-14 00:00

TENSIONS in rural Pongola continue to simmer as pastor Zeblon Nkosi, initially accused of the brutal slaying of four-year-old Lungisani Ntuli, was released from custody on Friday.

As the incensed community promised continued unrest unless the perpetrator was brought to book, a decision by the National Prosecuting Authority saw the controversial clergyman released.

Without sufficient evidence to link Nkosi to Lungisani’s slaying, he was released while the police investigation wears on.

He is now in hiding, fearing reprisals from an angry mob baying for blood.

Repeated attempts to contact Nkosi were unsuccessful.

A relative, who refused to give her name when contacted by The Witness, said the churchman was in hiding.

“He has left his cellphone with the police and even I do not know where he is. No one knows because the situation here is so dangerous,” she said, before abruptly ending the phone call.

The pastor is a man with “no country” and other denominations have denounced him, his church members have deserted him and his church’s senior leadership even deny his existence.

Senior leadership of the St John’s Church travelled to Pongola Magistrate’s Court on Friday, where they held an impromptu press conference.

The leaders said Nkosi had defected from their church in 2003 and they heard rumours that he was now running his own church, but were not aware that he was using the St John’s name.

“He was one of those people that were always looking for higher positions, so when he could not get these positions he left and started his own church, where we understand he is now a bishop,” said one, Pastor Kwazikwenkosi Mkhize.

“We want to make it clear to the public that he is not a member of the St John’s church. He should tell the public where he belongs, who he is registered with and who he reports to.”

Mkhize said on June 30 Nkosi was caught in the yard of their main headquarters in Germiston, trying to pray at the grave of the founder of the church, Dr Petros Masango, and was kicked out “because he did not have permission to be there”.

Mkhize said reports linking their church to the killing have done immense damage to their reputation.

It was not only the church leadership that distanced itself from the accused pastor, members of his congregation have suddenly vanished.

Other pastors have denounced Nkosi, calling him the black sheep of religious circles.

A local pastor, Ndumiso Ngema, of the church directly across the road from St John’s and the former chairman of the Pongola Minister’s Forum, dissociated himself.

“He was never and has never been a member of the forum. He is isolated and has no relationship with any of the ministers in the forum,” said Ngema.

“We are totally against what he practises. He is mixing up practises of tradition and religion.”

Popular Durban pastor Vusi Dube said it was terrible that such a deed had occured in a church.

‘The church is a sanctuary for the public and in this instance, the community has every right to be angry because the church has betrayed them … This is something that should not have happened.”

— Additional reporting by Jeff Wicks.

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