Another death by fasting

2011-01-26 00:00

A MAN from Umlazi, south of Durban, is believed to have died after he had been fasting for 70 days, the second such death within days.

The devotee, reported a Durban-based newspaper, was buried on Sunday after he fell ill as a consequence of the lengthy fast.

According to the report, the devotee whom The Witness only knows by his surname, Mthiyane, was affiliated to the Assembly of God Church in Umlazi.

Attempts to find out his name and age were unsuccessful.

The Witness has learnt that fasting is a strict requirement in the church, although this was not confirmed by the church as attempts to get comment were unsuccessful.

Provincial police spokesperson Superintendent Buhle Ngidi said police are aware of Mthiyane’s death, but no inquest docket has been opened as he was considered to have died of natural causes.

Mthiyane’s burial on Sunday followed that of Pietermaritzburg’s Nelisiwe Majozi (43) who fasted and prayed for 40 days and was found dead about 10 days after she had died.

Majozi, who was a Union Bible Institute student, would fast and pray for many days, according to close sources.

Mthiyane’s wife declined to comment. However, according to the Durban newspaper Mthiyane had been frail and weak when he was taken to a doctor before his death.

The report quoted the doctor who attended to Mthiyane saying his bowels had become twisted.

Religious leaders have cautioned devotees to be informed about fasting and how it is best done as what happened to Mthiyane can be classified as starvation.

Pastor Vusi Dube of the eThekwini Community Church said fasting has has been taken seriously by some churchgoers, but he cautioned them against taking the observance to extremes.

“Those who are fasting must do it properly or consult church leaders,” said Dube.

He said he and his church members were shocked about Mthiyane’s death, and he has again warned his congregation that if they must fast, they should do so with caution.

Union Bible Institute vice principal Marjory Patrick said that fasting is to purify the body and rejuvenate the mind.

Patrick said that the biblical outcome of fasting is for the greater good of the individual, loved ones and humanity.

“We are instructed in the scripture to not call attention to ourselves when fasting. Fasting was never designed to be seen as if one is trying to kill oneself to save others.”

She added that there is no biblical record of anyone dying from a fast and she encouraged devotees to find out all they can about fasting.

Edward Ximba, secretary of the Ekuphakameni Shembe Church, said there is generally a lack of understanding about fasting.

It is not about completely staying away from food, he explained; it is also about abandoning the things that a devotee loves.

— Witness Reporter.






Marjory Patrick, Union Bible Institute vice principal

Fasting was never designed to be seen as if one is trying to kill oneself to save others.

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