Aftermath of church cave-in taking toll
Witchcraft suspicion and separation of children tearing families apart
OMEN are being accused of bewitching their partners who died in the Nigerian guest house collapse, the Department of Social Development says.
The department has received reports that the families of some of the dead men are accusing their female partners of cursing them.
“We need to protect the women… there is a case where a protection order had to be sought,” said department spokeswoman Lumka Oliphant.
She said the families had not come to grips with the fact that the collapse in September at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan) guest house owned by popular pastor TB Joshua was an accident.
Another challenge that had resulted from the tragedy was the separation of children from their families.
Oliphant said most of the people who died were female and they had headed their households.
Extended families were making informal arrangement to take care of the children who had been left motherless.
“If families intend taking the children through adoption or foster care, a legal process has to be followed,” said Oliphant.
She said there had also been cases where children were being separated because their parents were unmarried.
In some cases, the offspring of unmarried couples were being split between their extended families.
Oliphant said the department had to deal with those situations in a way that would
Wmake the families understand that their decisions had to be in the best interest of the child. Oliphant said the department was willing to help anyone who was experiencing gender-based violence, especially those affected by the above issues.
She urged people to make use the department’s helpline 0800 428 428 or to dial *120*786# and a professional would call them back.
On Sunday, the remains of 74 of the 85 South Africans were repatriated from Lagos after a two-month wait.
The remains that were not returned are yet to be positively identified.
Scoan spokesman Bally Chuene said the church stood by its belief that the collapse was a result of sabotage and not structural defects or noncompliance.
“The church is of the view that the role of the aeroplane must be investigated and hence the investigation by the Nigerian police.”
Chuene said the Commissioner for Physical Development and Urban Planning in Nigeria had confirmed that the plans submitted by the church were assessed and approved.
He said allegations that the church had tried to hide the collapse did not make sense.
“Immediately after the collapse, the church solicited assistance from various organisations – some of which are multinationals – to assist with the rescue operations,” he said.
Chuene said the church would continue to provide assistance in the form of spiritual counselling, food and money to the families of the dead.