Zim adds to TB Joshua death toll confusion

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THE government is adamant that only one Zimbabwean died in the collapse of a six-storey hostel at popular Nigerian self-styled prophet Temitope Balagun “TB” Joshua’s Synagogue Church of all Nations (Scoan) last month.

NQOBANI NDLOVU
STAFF REPORTER

About 115 pilgrims were confirmed dead, 80 of them South Africans, while scores were injured when the building caved in on September 12.

South Africa on Monday revised its dead to 80, down from 84, indicating the three others it had counted were Zimbabweans and the other one a Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) national who had used South African passports.

However, the Foreign Affairs ministry permanent secretary Joey Bimha yesterday told Southern Eye that there was only one confirmed Zimbabwean among the dead.

He said investigations by the Zimbabwean embassy in Nigeria showed that MDC-T acting Mashonaland West chairperson Greenwich Ndanga was the only local who perished in the tragedy.

“Our investigations show that only one Zimbabwean, an MDC-T official, was among the dead after the TB Joshua church building collapsed,” he said.

‘We have no reports of other Zimbabweans who died in Nigeria.”

Bimha said his ministry had no statistics on the number of Zimbabweans that had travelled to Nigeria during the week of the building collapse.

“Most of them (church people visiting Nigeria) do not notify us of their visits,” he said.

“They go on their own and we cannot stop them from doing so because it’s their individual choices.”

South African acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams said the three Zimbabweans had used her country’s documents to travel to the populous West African country.

Williams said the South African government had been in touch with the Zimbabwean government, which confirmed that the three were its citizens.

Jane Sibanda and Sisasenkosi Ngwenya are the other Zimbabweans confirmed dead in the accident.

Sibanda’s brother Danford Hwature confirmed that his sister lived in South Africa with her husband and had gone to Nigeria “to seek deliverance and salvation” at Scoan.

None of the bodies has yet arrived back in the country for burial.

The Nigeria embassy in Harare had still not responded to e-mailed inquiries by Southern Eye on the number of Zimbabweans who travelled to that country in the week of the building collapse or for the whole of September.

TB Joshua’s wife Evelyn reportedly visited Bulawayo at the weekend to console the bereaved families.