SA urges Nigeria to investigate TB Joshua guesthouse collapse

TB Joshua building 2

South African government minister Jeff Radebe has urged the Nigerian government to investigate the tragedy in which more than 115 people were killed when a church guesthouse collapsed on September 12.

The incident happened in the church compound of popular preacher TB Joshua in which 84 South Africans from visiting church groups were killed.

South Africa had to organise its own rescue and evacuation operation as Nigerian authorities seemed not to act fast enough.

A diplomatic row could be in the offing, as South Africans are angry at the ‘feet-dragging’ by Nigerian government with regards to the collapse, which occurred when three storeys were being added to the two-storey building, and for not reacting more quickly to help those trapped under the rubble.

Nigerian emergency services said the total death toll was 86 and have refused to comment on nationalities of those who died.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan visited the site on Saturday, offering his condolences to Joshua, who has been the focus of South Africans anger after he described the victims as “martyrs of faith” on his Facebook page.

Joshua and his supporters say the collapse was an “attack” somehow linked to a mysterious aircraft they say flew over the building before it fell down.

“We are keenly awaiting as a South African government the investigation that is being conducted by the Nigerian government so that we get to the bottom of the cause of … this national disaster,” Radebe said.

South Africa’s media has been scathing of Joshua and the Nigerian government, especially after the Nigerian emergency services said the church had failed to cooperate and had blocked rescuers’ access to the site.

Joshua’s church draws thousands of followers from all over Africa and other parts of the world.

Credit: Reuters