A 40-year-old woman Catherine Ndlovu who reportedly paid thousands of dollars to visit Nigeria, to seek spiritual solution for her hospitalised daughter has been reported as one of the 115 people confirmed to have died after the collapse of a church building owned by the pastor,T.B. Joshua.
Vanguard reports that Ndlovu’s family accused the prophet and his church of giving very little information concerning their sister in the aftermath of the September 12 disaster, including insisting that the mother of two was unharmed and would be returning home alive.
Ndlovu’s brother Jabulani was quoted by South African Chronicle as saying that, “we called them (TB Joshua church) every day, asking where my sister was and they said she had boarded a plane back to South Africa and would be back last Sunday.
They said: “We became suspicious when other Zimbabweans who had travelled to Nigeria came back via South Africa and she was not part of the group. It became clear they’d been lying to us and withholding information from us all along.”
Ndlovu became the second Zimbabwean to have allegedly died in the disaster after Greenwich Ndanga, the MDC-T chairman for Mashonaland West, was reported to be among the dead by his family.
Ndlovu’s family said she left Zimbabwe on September 11, a day after her 19 year-old daughter, Prioress Tshuma, who had suffered from seizures since 2007, was admitted at Mpilo Central Hospital. She believed the seizures were caused by an evil spirit, and hoped TB Joshua would heal her.
It would have been just hours after she touched down in the Nigerian capital, Lagos, before her life was snuffed out by falling concrete blocks and cement dust – leaving a daughter in hospital and a nine-year-old son, Progress Sibanda, orphaned.
Their uncle, Jabulani, was battling with a lot of questions and accused the church of attempting a clumsy cover-up.
“When we heard news of the collapse, we feared the worst. There was no communication from the church until my cousin, who lives in South Africa, called them.
“They just put up a wall of lies and kept telling us she was safe. It would be only several days later that they confirmed our worst fears,” he said.
But the family’s hope of getting Catherine’s body any time soon were immediately dashed after TB Joshua’s aides asked them to provide a DNA sample for positive identification.
“We don’t even know if that’s true, and our only hope now is that our government can get to the bottom of this. Who knows how many other Zimbabweans have been kept in the dark about their relatives’ fate?”
TB Joshua had been heavily criticized over his handling of the crisis, with aide workers saying they were prevented from accessing the disaster area for several days.
The preacher, however, rejected the lack of co-operation claims as inaccurate.
Instead, he said that “contrary to this, we want to categorically state that the church has provided assistance when and where required and continues to do so: good Christians are good citizens,” he added.