TB Joshua Synagogue should be prosecuted over building collapse - report

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A Nigerian coroner on Wednesday said a megachurch run by one of Africa's best known preachers, TB Joshua, should be prosecuted over a building collapse last year which killed 115 people, most of them South Africans.

The coroner, Oyetade Komolafe, blamed poor construction work for the collapse of a Lagos church guesthouse on Sept. 12, 2014 and said weak foundations led to the disaster.

"Synagogue Church of All Nations should be investigated and prosecuted by the relevant authorities over the (construction) job for not processing the necessary building permit," Komolafe said in his ruling.

Olalekan Ojo, speaking on behalf of Joshua and the church, told AFP that it was "unfortunate" that the coroner ignored submissions that "having building approval is not [a] panacea for building collapse".

"The court also ruled that there was no nexus between the hovering aircraft and the collapsed structure. By so doing, the court has ignored the testimony of the police," he said.

"We, as the legal team, will sit and if there is any need to take further steps to have the verdict reviewed we will do so."

South Africa earlier accused Nigeria of not doing enough to investigate the disaster and said Nigerian authorities did not react quickly enough to rescue those trapped under the rubble.

Meanwhile South Africa's TimesLive reports that one of the survivors, Emma Nkanyane, 35, dismissed the ruling as "nonsense" concocted by "earthly experts" who know nothing about spiritual matters.

She said the church could not be blamed for the work of the devil, and she would go to the church again.

She said: "I do not believe in scientific findings for spiritual matters. I am not going to accept the findings, I will not blame the church for what happened. Only God will give us the truth, not some experts."

Phillip Mbedzi, whose 30-year-old daughter, Mpho, died in the tragedy, said he was not interested in the findings of "a devilish investigation".

The 61-year-old father from Vhembe district, in Limpopo, said he had known that the tribunal would blame the church.

"It is just the work of the devil to destroy our bishop but we shall not be shaken.

"We were waiting for this verdict. The bishop told us that this would be the outcome. He will guide us moving forward."

Mbedzi said the one child he had lost was nothing compared to the 115 other children in Joshua's flock that were lost in the tragedy.

He said he was in constant communication with Joshua but would not reveal what they discussed.

Mpho Mahlwele, who lost his 58-year-old mother, Kgomotso, was tight-lipped.

He said: "I heard about the verdict but I will not comment."

Joshua's evangelical Christian megachurch has drawn tens of thousands of followers from across Africa over the last few years amid claims that he has the ability to cure normally incurable ailments.

The regular influx of visitors from abroad for TB Joshua's services, which can run for up to a week, creates demand for accommodation.


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