PMB pastor in Cuba uproar

2016-01-05 11:30

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pietermaritzburg - A “cunning” Pietermaritzburg pastor has been fingered by the South African health attaché in Havana for allegedly leading a student doctor to mental illness through his teachings and sermons.

The accusation, which has been levelled against the senior pastor of Threshing Floor Bible Church, Apostle S.C. Maduna, has been firmly denied.

According to the Health Department, Maduna “sneaked into Cuba as a tourist” and is responsible for the students posting their worst ever results since start of the RSA/Cuban Medical Training Programme, which sees students from impoverished backgrounds sent to Cuba to study medicine by the KZN Department of Health.

The matter has been deemed so urgent that Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo is expected to fly to Cuba today along with a clinical psychologist.

The department said the Havana health attaché “raised concern” that a “medical student” seems to be “mentally disturbed after attending sermons by a KZN pastor”.

The students have been accused of missing lectures, instead spending time preaching on the street corners of the capital in the communist island state.

According to the department, 26 students failed their academic year and must repeat their studies, with a further 22 facing “exclusion due to being absent for more than 20% of class attendance days”.

Dhlomo said the pastor was transported and accommodated by the students using their “meagre stipends”.

“The pastor told them to prioritise this [their religion] over and above their studies. I am going there to plead with the students to prioritise their studies,” Dhlomo told The Witness.

He said the Health Department was not opposed to religious activities, “but students cannot be praying for seven hours a day”.

“Those who want to follow their pastoral callings must come back to South Africa with me. They need to apply to pay back the funds that sent them there because the students went there for a reason and that is to study medicine,” he said.

Church spokesperson Ntokozo Biyela confirmed Maduna’s visit in September/October 2015, but said that everything was above board.

“He applied for a visa like anyone else and visited the students at their invitation. He then visited Europe before returning to South Africa. It is strange they would link the church to mental illness. We are expanding and preaching the word of God and the healings of the Holy Spirit. We preach the gospel and are not a prosperity- or blessing-teaching church that is run like a business,” said Biyela.

He said the church had not been informed by the department of any allegations levelled against it.

According to the department, Maduna should have obtained a working visa to enter Cuba.

It is unclear whether the South African mission in Cuba has come under pressure from that government. Freedom of religion was heavily curtailed after the Cuban revolution, with church land confiscated by the state and religious schools shut down. However, according to USA Today, Christianity has slowly returned, with the state giving permission in 2014 for the first new church to be constructed since the revolution.

The department said the students have a daily Bible study, church service, and midnight and early morning prayer meetings, and are neglecting their studies.

It says Maduna has anointed students as pastors, prophets and evangelists.

“[He is] doing all this in violation of the visa rules as he had entered Cuba as a tourist, having not procured a work permit. Those anointed now go out of campuses and preach on street corners, trying to convert Cubans,” said a department statement. It said Dhlomo had consulted with “50 religious leaders” as well as the provincial executive to seek “guidance on this matter”.

“We have pinned great hopes on this RSA/Cuban Medical Training Programme as we have set ourselves a goal of producing more than a thousand doctors by the year 2020. We cannot allow it to be wrecked by opportunists and a cunning ‘pastor’ who preys on young and poor students,” said Dhlomo.

Travel agent and Harvey World KimZan managing director Claudia Pillay said a person only needed a working visa if they would be paid in the currency of the country they were visiting.

“If this pastor was invited and not paid for preaching overseas, then he would not need a working visa. He is a tourist,” said Pillay.

Attempts to reach the Cuban Embassy in South Africa were unsuccessful.

In 2013, The Witness reported that fewer than half of the South Africans sent to Cuba to train as doctors had completed the course.

Between 1997 and 2009, the government sent 624 medical students to Cuba, but according to parliamentary records, in October 2011 Health director-general Precious Matsoso revealed that by that date only 257 had qualified as doctors.

In January that year the department revealed that six students had given up their scholarships and returned home in a dispute over stipends the government pays them over and above their living expenses.

They were part of a group of 187 students who went on strike, complaining about the pocket money and the food.

They wanted the stipend increased from R1 600 a month to more than R6 300 at the time.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  health

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Hip Cape Town bars to discover this summer
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.