by Kolapo Olapoju
Following the guest house building collapse in his church premises on 12 September, Temitope Balogun Joshua, the General Overseer of the Synagogue Church of All of Nations (SCOAN) has sent money and other items to the families of the 84 South African victims killed in the tragedy.
On Sunday, 5 October, South Africa’s ‘Sunday Times’ reported that Joshua had instructed his envagelists across South Africa to share maize meal, annointed water and R5,000 (
N73, 116) to family members of those killed in the building collapse.
The report stated that although many families had confirmed receiving the gifts and money from Joshua, they were not moved by the gesture of the Nigerian prophet.
One of such persons, Thanduxolo Doro, whose sister, Vathiswa Madikiza, died in the tragedy, is at the forefront of the recent calls for a class action lawsuit against Joshua, by families of the deceased victims.
Five families are believed to have expressed their willingness to join Doro in taking legal action against church and two law firms have also reportedly offered their services.
Doro told ‘Sunday Times’ that representatives of the church had repeatedly tried to set up a meeting with him. He said, “They met with my family at home, offering condolences, and gave them R5,000. I told them: ‘Whatever you are offering, it can never compare with the life of my sister.”
According to him, the amount of R5,000 was a far cry from the R18,000 (
N263,219), his late sister paid to travel from South Africa to Lagos to visit the church.
A former President of the South African Football Association and a “fellow” of the Synagogue Church of All of Nations, Kirsten Nematandani, confirmed that multiple teams had visited the families of the victims.
“In fact this is the second round of visits. We are assisting the families with whatever they need, school fees, rent, groceries and toiletries, and the families are so grateful for the help. We take the message from the man of God that they must pray with him for the loss of their loved ones. We give them the anointed water to strengthen them,” he said.
Another relative of a victim, Mxolisi Catazo, whose wife, Amanda Fina, died in the building collapse, acknowledged receiving the delegation from the church, but however, denied collecting money from them. He said, “The church people did come to see me on Monday and they said I must call them when I need help with the funeral. They didn’t give me any money.”
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government hasannounced that the coroner inaugurated to probe the circumstances surrounding the collapse will begin sitting on 13 October.
According to a statement by the state Ministry of Justice on Friday, 3 October, the coroner’s hearing will hold at the Coroner Court in the Ikeja premises of the Lagos State High Court.
The coroner’s task is to determine the cause of the building collapse, and it will be headed by Chief Magistrate Abimbola Komolafe.
The Lagos State Building Control Agency, the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, the Lagos State Ministry of Works, the Surveyor-General of the state, the SCOAN building contractors, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria and the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism, are on the coroner’s witness list.
Other government agencies that are expected to give testimony at the inquest are; National Emergency Management Agency, the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, the Nigerian Red Cross Society, the Lagos State Fire Service and the Lagos State Transport Management Authority, Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Chief Medical Director of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, the Chief Medical Examiner of the state and officials of the Emergency Centre of the Igando General Hospital, Lagos State.
The ministry of Justice statement also divulged that print and electronic media houses such as Punch, The Nation, Daily Independent, Vanguard, P.M. News, News Agency of Nigeria, Channels Television and Television Continental are also expected to testify before the coroner of inquest.
T.B Joshua, the families of the victims, an eyewitness of the incident, Lindiw Ndwande, and chairman of the Youth League’s International Relation Committee of South Africa, Rebone Tau, were also listed as witnesses.
The Ministry of Justice also urged other members of the public who possess useful information, evidence or any material, “that will assist the court in its findings are also enjoined to indicate their interest by contacting the registrar at the Coroner’s Court, High Court premises, Ikeja, Lagos State between the hours of 8.00 am and 4.00 pm daily.”