A lot of mystery surrounds the collapse of the Synagogue Church of all Nations which belongs to popular and charismatic leader and televangelist, TB Joshua last week. The church building collapsed on Friday and, according to media reports, killed 67 South Africans.
While some reports initially indicated that the total number of all those that died after the church guest house collapsed was 67, this has been revised to say that the number 67 represents only the number of South Africans that died in the tragedy. Some news reports had earlier indicated that the collapse had resulted in 67 fatalities and 131 survivors. However, a presidential report on Tuesday placed the 67 deaths as South Africans who were said to be part of the close to 300 pilgrims who had travelled to Nigeria for the healing and prophesies usually attributed to the charismatic T. B. Joshua.
Another point of controversy is the cause of the collapse. When it occurred, T. B. Joshua attributed the tragedy to a low flying plane that seemed to have continuously transversed the airspace over the synagogue. Nigerian authorities have confirmed receiving a report from the preacher with this accusation. They further indicated that they would be making relevant investigations into the claim. On the other hand, town planning and urban development commissioner, Toyin Ayinde are of the opinion that the answer or explanation lies in the material used to construct the whole building consequently, samples of the materials used have been taken for testing. In addition, there are indications that the collapse may have been as a result of additional floors that were in the process of being added to the original building without a corresponding strengthening of the foundation.
There are other complications to the whole saga mostly emanating from the fact that T. B. Joshua and his staff were not originally cooperative when the whole thing started. According to National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) spokesperson for the southwest region, Ibrahim Farinloye, for the first three days after the collapse of the building, the emergency rescue services did not only not receive cooperation, church officials were very hostile and prevented rescue officials from accessing the site. This, they felt resulted in more deaths than could have been the case. In addition, the preacher and his officials have still not submitted vital information to the investigation teams. The South African ambassador to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni told news reporters that there was no certainty about the death toll. He said there were chances that this figure would change either way with more information that came to light.
However, the good news for South Africa was that there were some survivors who arrived on Wednesday at OR Tambo International Airport from Nigeria. There were, however, still some families that were still hoping that their loved ones would arrive. Another contingent of survivors were due to arrive in South Africa early on Thursday morning.