Church victims laid to rest

2014-11-23 15:00

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It was a day of tears and mourning across South Africa yesterday as victims of the Nigerian church disaster were laid to rest. Family and friends wept as coffins containing the remains of their loved ones were slowly lowered into the ground.

Ten weeks ago, the roof of a guesthouse belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria, collapsed, killing 116. Among them were 81 South Africans, many of whom were buried yesterday in ceremonies across the country.

For some families who lost more than one member, the pain was almost too much to bear.

The Ngcobo family grappled with reality as the coffins of husband and wife, Thuthukani (50) and Dr Phumzile “Dickie” (48) arrived for the first time at their family home in Mkhindini village in Melmoth on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast.

Family and friends who came to pay their respects were overcome with grief.

It was the same with the Mthethwa family from Orange Farm, Joburg, where mother Lufuno, father Mandla and daughter Renewa (9) died in the tragedy. Some family members were struggling to come to terms with the fact that their youngest children, aged four and two, were now orphans.

But Mandla’s younger brother, Muziwonke Dingiswayo, said they were comforted by the fact that the three had died while worshipping God.

“My brother was a God-fearing man and, somehow, we are at peace because he died while serving his Lord,” he said.

Back in Melmoth, one of the Ngcobo’s 10 children, Philile (22) battled to hold back tears as she spoke about her

deceased parents.

“I won’t cry as Mum didn’t like someone who did so in times of death as if they didn’t have faith. Mum and Dad taught us to love and respect others,

irrespective of their financial status. We believe they are not dead, but are sleeping and will rise again on the Day of Resurrection,” she said.

Apostle Lazarus Mahlangu of Kingdom International Church comforted the family, saying he had lost several people close to him, but had never experienced such pain.

“This tragedy taught me that even though I’m a man of God, I don’t know everything. God’s eye is on the country, as we all know He is attracted to the

broken-hearted,” he said.

“We should stop being angry and digging for answers as God is the only one who knows what happened. God’s will can’t be changed.”

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