Af­ter­math of church cave-in tak­ing toll

Witch­craft sus­pi­cion and sep­a­ra­tion of chil­dren tear­ing fam­i­lies apart

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MPILETSO MOTUMI

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.

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