Nigeria News
Synagogue Tragedy: TB Joshua Not Welcome in South Africa, ANC Warns


The youth wing of the African National Congress (ANC) yesterday warned the spiritual head of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet T.B. Joshua, not to visit South Africa in the nearest future.

The ANC members were reacting to Joshua’s announcement of his proposed visit to the country to empathise with the families of the 84 persons who lost their lives in the church’s headquarters in Lagos more than a week ago.

A six-storey guest house belonging to the church collapsed on September 12, claiming at least 115 lives and leaving others missing.

The warning came as the Botswana  Government yesterday said following the collapse of a church building, its High Commission in Nigeria with the Nigeria Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the leadership of the church had managed to locate 10 Botswana citizens who were in the vicinity of the collapsed building at the time of the incident.

Stressing that Joshua would not be welcomed, the youth wing of the party further warned the South African government not to issue a visa to him if he applies for such.
The group, which made this disclosure in a statement by its spokesman, Bandile Masuku, said they would make sure such trip never come to pass.

He said: “TB Joshua should not be allowed to come to South Africa until we know what happened to our fellow countrymen at his church.

“We will make sure we engage with the department of international relations and co-operation to make sure they do not issue him a South African visa.”

Although 25 injured persons were flown back to South Africa for treatment and rehabilitation at the Steve Biko Academic hospital in Pretoria, three of them have been adjudged permanently disabled.

Social Development Deputy Minister, Hendrieta Bogopane Zulu, who made this disclosure said the government would also provide counselling to the affected families to enable them cope with the trauma.

Meanwhile, to fast track the release of the 84 corpses of South Africans at the Isolo General Hospital morgue in Lagos, the South African forensic team yesterday began collecting the fingerprints and DNA samples that would aid investigations.

The South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, who made this disclosure, said finger prints and the DNA samples were expected to be sent to Pretoria tomorrow to help confirm the identity of the South Africans who died.

He said: “There are 115 bodies out there, but we have our 84, and we will then confirm from our people. We have taken DNA samples from family members who were here and we have taken DNA samples from family members in South Africa.
“That will help us determine who is South African and who is not, and then get our people released back to us.”

Also, in a statement issued on Monday, the Botswana High Commission in Nigeria said it had established that the 10 Botswana nationals were in an adjacent building in the same compound when the tragedy occurred and all of them have been accounted for and returned home.

“Botswana government conveys its heartfelt sympathy and condolences to those who lost their loved ones and wish that all those reported missing are found quickly,” the statement said.

However, the Lagos State Government yesterday said it had suspended all decisions on the collapsed building in the church.

The state government also said it put all its decisions on hold due to a panel of inquiry, which it said; the federal government had constituted to investigate the building collapse incident.

The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba, said the state government had suspended investigation because the federal government had also set up a panel to investigate the incident, saying the state took the step to avoid working at cross purposes with the federal government on the issue.

Ibirogba said the tragedy had both national and international dimension because Nigerians are not the people who died in the incident, but also nationals of other countries, especially South Africa.

He said the state was working in tandem with all parties “to get to the root of the issue and forestall a recurrence. “We are all aware that the federal government has set up a committee.

“What we are saying is that in order for us not to preempt that committee and hold anyone responsible, the best thing is for us to put this news conference on hold,” Ibirogba said.

He added that agencies of governments “are working together so that at the end of the day, we will have a comprehensive report. Until that is out, it will not be right for us to say anything.”

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