Africa

TB Joshua Lagos church collapse: South Africa rescuers in Nigeria

Officials inspecting the site of the building collapse, Lagos, Nigeria 16 September 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Officials suspect the foundations were not suitable for extra floors to be added to the building

A South African rescue team has flown to Nigeria to help locate missing South Africans believed to have been inside a church hostel when it collapsed last week in Lagos.

The team will be able to sign death certificates and check that survivors are getting adequate treatment.

Of the 80 confirmed deaths, at least 67 were from South Africa.

They had gone to Nigeria to attend a gathering organised by famous Nigerian TV evangelist TB Joshua.


BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg

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Media captionKhathuatshelo Ramovha recounts being trapped in the hostel for 13 hours

Khathuatshelo Ramovha has arrived back home in South Africa after witnessing the hostel collapse and told the BBC what he saw.

"It was very dark, people were screaming, people were crying, they were shouting: 'My head' 'my leg'.

"After some time, some stopped screaming," he said.

The 28-year-old said he heard a strange hissing sound just after sitting down for lunch in the dining hall last Friday. He managed to hide under a table as the building came down - staying there for 13 hours, waiting to be rescued.

Mr Ramovha said it was terrifying, but part of God's plan. He said that earlier on Friday, one of the church preachers had appeared to warn worshippers:

"He kept saying: 'Uncommon blessing attract uncommon challenges. Be ready for any activity, any danger.' It was like he was encouraging us to be strong."

If anything, the incident has strengthened Mr Ramovha's faith in TB Joshua and his ministry. "I will go back to Nigeria when I get a chance," he said, explaining that the all-inclusive trip organised by church-approved agencies cost close to $2,000 (£1,220).


Mr Joshua, referred to by his followers as a "prophet" is the founder of the Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) church ministry, which is popular across Africa and elsewhere.

More than 130 people survived, including one South African woman who was pulled from the rubble on Monday - three days after the building collapsed.

South Africa's International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane has said 20 South Africans are currently being treated in Nigerian hospitals after the collapse.

The multi-story building which collapsed served as a guesthouse on Mr Joshua's campus.


TB Joshua

  • Founded Synagogue, Church of All Nations in the 1990s
  • Runs Christian television station Emmanuel TV
  • The ministry professes to heal all manner of illnesses
  • Controversially this includes HIV/Aids
  • Known as the "Prophet" by his followers
  • Tours Africa, the US, the UK and South America

Profile: Nigerian preacher TB Joshua

In pictures: TB Joshua's ministry in 2005


It was housing visitors from elsewhere in Nigeria and other countries.

Mr Joshua had said a small plane had been circling over the building before it collapsed on Friday afternoon, and suggested it was an attempt on his life.

However, rescue officials say the likeliest cause of the building's collapse was the construction of additional storeys without reinforcing the foundations.

Rescue workers says members of the church at first prevented emergency workers from participating in the rescue.

Image caption Mr Joshua's preaching is popular and his sermons are sold around the world

But SCOAN denied the accusations in a statement posted on its Facebook account overnight.

"It is very sad that inaccurate reports are coming from some quarters that we are not co-operating with the rescue teams and other agencies in collating information and providing assistance on the incident," it said.

"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.

"The church views this tragedy as part of an attack on The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations and in particular, Prophet TB Joshua. In due course, God will reveal the perpetrators of this unfortunate tragedy," it continued.

It is believed that at least five South African church tour groups were visiting the church at the time of the collapse.

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