Church ‘not at fault’

2016-01-08 13:51

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Pietermaritzburg - The Pietermaritzburg church accused of contributing to a South African student’s mental instability believes they are being made a scapegoat by the provincial government.

The Threshing Floor Bible Church is accused by the KZN Department of Health of diverting the attention of South African medical students studying in Cuba at the state’s expense, who dedicate most of their time to Christianity.

In a statement released yesterday, church spokesperson Ntokozo Biyela said they “dispute any and all adverse allegations related to Cuba Medical Students apportioned to The TFBC”.

Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo deemed the matter so urgent that he flew to Havana, Cuba, along with a clinical psychologist on Wednesday. The department has alleged that a student “seems to be mentally disturbed” after attending Apostle S.C. Maduna’s sermons, while many are failing since he visited the students in Cuba in September 2015.

The department said some students had stopped attending classes altogether, instead opting to evangelise on the street corners of Havana.

Biyela said blaming the church is “scapegoating”.

“Students studying in Cuba have... been experiencing personal and life­style problems [before Maduna’s visit]. These relate to excessive indulgence in alcohol, chaotic partying … fights in some bars … sexual immorality, pregnancies, poor performance and … also extremist religious practices by some.”

He said the state had intervened on several occasions and that the students’ behaviour was likely to be affecting diplomatic relations between South Africa and Cuba.

Biyela said the church had no branch or members in Cuba.

“There is no way a two-day visit could influence the change in performance of students who have been studying all year,” he said.

Biyela said public records released to parliament in 2011 show that the programme has a 41% pass rate.

In December, Free State medical student Mbuti Twala was killed in an alleged drunken street brawl in Cuba.

National Health Department spokesperson Popo Maja confirmed earlier in the week that Twala had been killed in an “alcohol-related” attack.

News24 reported yesterday that his body is expected to return home in about 10 days.

Premier Ace Magashule on Thursday said he was deeply saddened by the death of “dedicated patriot” Mbuti Twala on December 28.

The second-year medical student hailed from QwaQwa.

It is understood that three locals attacked him and two fellow students with glass bottles.

He had been studying at the Latin American Medical School. He and his friends had visited the Baracoa restaurant/bar in a nearby town when a local man allegedly hit Twala in the face and he apparently returned the blow.

When the group tried to find refuge from the attackers, security guards allegedly refused to let them into a venue because they believed “South Africans were always involved in fights”.

It is understood that three Cuban men armed themselves with bottles before attacking the students.

Twala was hit on the head with a bottle and lay motionless on the ground. His friend covered his body to protect him from further blows and was stabbed in the arm. Twala was taken to hospital with a stab wound to the chest. Doctors tried unsuccessfully to save him. It is understood that authorities have arrested three men in connection with the murder.

The KZN Health Department could not respond to questions on Biyela’s statement by the time of going to press yesterday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  doctors  |  church

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