Africa

The men who claim to be Africa's 'miracle workers'

  • 27 November 2016
  • From the section Africa
A man spraying insecticide in the face of a woman before a congregation Image copyright Mountzion General Assembly
Image caption Many were shocked by the revelation that a South African pastor used insecticide in a healing ritual

The revelation that a South African pastor has been spraying insecticide on his church members in a healing ritual has shocked many but he is not the only self-styled pastor in Africa to resort to highly questionable practices.

Cities and towns across the continent are plastered with signs and posters advertising churches, usually with apocalyptic names, promising instant cures and salvation from every intractable situation or sickness.

The churches are usually led by charismatic pastors, who set up their own churches rather than joining an established institution, and often claim to have miraculous powers.

However, the miracles are however tied to worshippers "planting a seed" - or giving money to the preachers.

Here are some of Africa's more controversial preachers:

'Turning petrol into pineapple juice'

Pastor Lesego Daniel heads the Rabboni Ministries based in South Africa's capital, Pretoria.

He famously instructed members of his congregation to drink petrol, claiming that he had turned it into pineapple juice.

Image copyright Rabboni Center Ministries
Image caption The video message warns: "If you cannot turn water into wine, do not try this at home"

A video shared online shows a worshipper pouring the petrol into a pan and then lighting it to prove that it is combustible.

He then sips from the bottle and declares that "he feels fine and does not have any side effects" when the pastor enquires about the taste.

A woman then rushes to the pulpit to have a sip of the drink and then declares it is "sweet" - an enticing assessment that gets a group of women rushing to the pulpit to have a taste.

Image copyright Rabboni Center Ministries
Image caption A woman said the drink was "sweet"

However, the video shared on the church's YouTube account did have a warning message:

"The level of anointing is not the same. If you cannot turn water into wine, do not try this at home."


'Snake pastor'

Penuel Mnguni is only 25 yet has been running the End Times Disciples Ministries church since 2014.

He is a protege of Lesego Daniel, the South African pastor who used pesticide in his healing rituals.

Image copyright End Times Disciples Ministries
Image caption Locals chased Penuel Mnguni out of the area where his church was located
Image copyright End Times Disciples Ministries
Image caption A poster on the church's Facebook page claims he can turn snakes into chocolate

In the same year he opened his church, pictures of worshippers eating grass and flowers on his orders were shared on Facebook and on the church's website.

Other images showed the self-proclaimed prophet feeding his members stones which he claimed to have turned into bread.

He earned his nickname "snake pastor" last year after pictures emerged of him feeding his followers snakes and rats, which he claimed had been turned into chocolate.

Locals later chased him out of Soshanguve, a township north of Pretoria where his church was located.


'Healing erectile dysfunction'

In Ghana, Bishop Daniel Obinim of International Godsway Ministries has an expansive list of rituals which he uses in various cases.

In one incident, which was widely shared he was shown stepping on the abdomen of a woman, who was reportedly pregnant, to exorcise her from being possessed by evil spirits.

In another case in June, he is seen grabbing men's crotches, saying this would heal their erectile dysfunction.

Image copyright YouTube
Image caption This stunt is the clean version of his prayer offering to "impotent men"

The men obediently stand in line, with their arms raised in their air, waiting for their turn to be touched by the preacher.

This seems to be the restrained version of his prayer said to cure men suffering from impotence.

In another video shared online last year he is seen praying over a man whose penis is exposed.

More recently, he was seen flogging a young woman and man during a service for allegedly having extra-marital sex.

One of the preacher's aides is shown holding the woman as she attempts to run away.

The pastor is then seen lashing out at the woman repeatedly with a belt, while the church members remain seated.

Media reports say that a court in the capital Accra has issued a warrant of arrest for the pastor and two of his associates for allegedly "flogging the two teenagers in church".


'Blood in water'

An investigation by Kenya's KTN TV station in November 2014 exposed the tricks Victor Kanyari, a famous televangelist, was allegedly using to fool worshippers at his Salvation Healing Ministry church.

Image copyright KTN
Image caption Potassium permanganate dissolves in water to give a reddish solution

He used potassium permanganate, a chemical compound that easily dissolves in water to give a reddish solution, to wash the feet of his members and then claim that blood was oozing from their feet as a sign of healing.

One of his former aides demonstrated how the preacher performed the trick.

Another video shows him putting his hand under a woman's dress to touch her breast, saying this would cure her from breast cancer.

Image copyright KTN
Image caption Victor Kanyari branded himself as a "Prophet" and also assumed the title "Doctor".

The woman is seen turning away from the camera but the preacher forces her to turn around to face the congregation as he exposes her breast for all to see. He then calls for a church worker to anoint the "diseased" breast with oil.

The investigation said Kanyari was the son of "Prophetess" Lucy Nduta, another controversial pastor who was convicted in 2009 for "defrauding vulnerable people" claiming she could cure them from Aids.

Shortly afterwards, he appeared on another TV programme, saying his "tribulations" were the work of his enemies.

Kanyari is still preaching.

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