Snakes, rat poison and resurrections – here are some of SA's most controversial pastors and prophets

2019-02-26 19:36
The Enlightened Christian Gathering Church leader, Shepherd Bushiri. (Daily Sun, file)

The Enlightened Christian Gathering Church leader, Shepherd Bushiri. (Daily Sun, file)

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From followers being sprayed with Doom to eating rat poison and snakes, and now even being "raised from the dead" – South Africa has had its fair share of pastors and prophets who have employed unconventional methods of worship and made extraordinary claims.

And they continue to have throngs of followers in tow who stand firm behind their spiritual leaders, despite ridicule, controversy and – in some cases – allegations of serious crimes.

Here are some of South Africa's most controversial preachers:

Pastor Alph Lukau

Lukau – of Alleluia International Ministries church in Kramerville, Sandton – claimed to have performed a "resurrection" in February this year. In a viral video, a Kings and Queens Real Funerals hearse can be seen transporting a coffin into the church where Lukau and congregants pray before a man rises from the coffin, breathing heavily in what is apparently staged to be a miraculous resurrection.

READ: Pastor Lukau's church backtracks, says 'resurrected corpse' was already alive

According to SowetanLIVE, Lukau's church has since claimed that the "dead" man was actually "already alive" when his "body" got to the premises and that Lukau had only "completed a miracle that God had already started".

Prophet Lethebo Rabalago

Also known as the "Doom pastor" of Mount Zion General Assembly Church, "Prophet" Rabalago made headlines in 2016 after pictures surfaced on Facebook of him spraying Doom on his congregations.

According to News24, he claimed the act of spraying Doom was to heal his followers and cast out demons.

The prophet was later taken to court – where he was accompanied by his bodyguards and church members singing, "Ha reso bone mathata he Doom e teng (We have not seen challenges with Doom)."

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri heads the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church.

The 35-year-old and his wife were granted bail of R100 000 each in the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Pretoria in February after they were arrested by the Hawks on charges of fraud, money laundering and contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

Also called The Major One, Prophet Bushiri once sold tickets to a gala dinner in his honour at the Pretoria Showgrounds for R1 000 to R25 000 – the closer you wanted to sit to the prophet, the more you had to pay.

Pastor Timothy Omotoso

Pastor Timothy Omotoso, who is a senior pastor of Jesus Dominion International, and his co-accused, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho – are currently facing 63 charges and 34 alternative charges, which include rape, sexual assault and racketeering.

The first witness in the trial, Cheryl Zondi, testified that her life and those of about 30 others were those of sex slaves who would be called into Omotoso's bedroom, as and when he had interest in a particular woman, at a specific time.

She described Omotoso as a demanding, selfish predator who demanded that she perform "horrible sexual acts".

Prophet Penuel Mnguni

Prophet Mnguni of End Times Disciples Ministries in Soshanguve, Pretoria, is well-known for his act of feeding his followers snakes – which he claims turn into chocolates.

According to eNCA, the 24-year-old pastor also claimed to have turned his church members into snakes in 2016 and he asked members to get naked before praying to him.

In 2018, News24 reported that he had served his congregants dog meat for communion.

In a video posted on the self-proclaimed prophet's Facebook page, Mnguni can be seen feeding dog meat to his followers.

In a separate post, which displays pictures of the dog before, during and after it was slaughtered, he says "it is not what goes through the mouth that disqualifies us and defile us but what comes out of the mouth – the heart matters most than what decomposes (food we eat)".

Prophet Light Monyeki

In 2016, members of Grace Living Hope Ministries in Soshanguve received a shocking revelation from Monyeki: rat poison mixed with water is an act of "the power of God".

According to The Citizen, when the prophet was feeding his church members the poison he said: "We do not need to proclaim faith because we are believers. If nyaope boys can smoke Rattex for more than eight years, who are we? Death has no power over us."

Pastor Hamilton Nala

In 2017, KwaZulu-Natal-based Pastor "King" Nala, of the Nala Mandate International, claimed in an interview on eNCA's CheckPoint that he could cure homosexuality and HIV.

The TV series analysed how the pastor went about extricating a "gay demon" from one of his followers, just one of his estimated 30 000 congregants.

"I have come to realise, homosexuality is a spirit, whether you are born with it, whether you got it after you were born – it's like Aids," he said on the show.

Pastor Mboro

Incredible Happenings Ministries' Pastor Paseka Motsoeneng, also known as Pastor Mboro, claimed on Facebook he went to hell and rid the world of its evils by killing the main man himself, Lucifer, IOL reported.

But after receiving negative feedback on his Facebook post, Mboro reportedly deleted it.

Mboro wrote: "When I got to hell, there was a queue of millions of people waiting to be braaied by Satan. I even saw some prominent South African politicians.

"I was so shocked because they lived like angels here on earth. I thought they went to heaven.

"When Satan saw me, he panicked and directed his army to kill me. Like Samson in the Bible, I defeated them. Satan was my last victim."

In 2016, he also claimed he went to heaven and took pictures on his Samsung Galaxy smartphone.

The pastor then tried to sell the heavenly pictures for R5 000 each.

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