Closure is at hand at last
HE IMPATIENCE was beginning to show last week when Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town Thabo Makgoba said the country should pray for the families of those who died in the TB Joshua church building collapse in Lagos two months ago. He said in a statement that grieving South Africans had had to wait too long for the repatriation. And indeed, the South African government was taking some of the heat for the delay as likely delicate diplomatic engagements went on around the event between it and the Nigerian government.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has other, much bigger matters on his mind, with elections looming in a couple of months and a tide of dissatisfaction among the electorate. World headlines around dodgy construction standards in Nigeria, such as those apparently evinced at Joshua’s guest lodge where 85 South Africans died in September, cannot be doing Nigeria or Jonathan’s image any good among investors,
But the tragedy hurt South Africa far more than it did Nigeria, which is still conducting an official inquiry. And yesterday presented an emotional moment for the dozens of friends and relatives of the worshippers who trusted that Joshua would take care of them when they attended his Synagogue Church of all Nations in Lagos.
The tragedy did however put Jacob Zuma’s administration – especially Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, appointed the special envoy to Nigeria to oversee the repatriation – under the whip as pressure grew for it to intervene when Nigeria seemed to be failing to take the moral lead. It eventually sent a large team of health workers and politicians to facilitate the return of the bodies.
Ultimately, should all the remains be returned to each and every family, the discontent around the treatment of their loved ones may be contained. But for now, let’s not lose sight of those who mourn.