The Synagogue Church of All Nations, led by Nigerian megachurch preacher TB Joshua, was indicted by a coroner on Wednesday (July 8, 2015) of criminal negligence in a building collapse in September 2014 that killed 116 worshipers including 81 South Africans.
“The church must be investigated and prosecuted for not obtaining the relevant approval before embarking on the construction of the building,” coroner Oyetade Komolafe said in his ruling, AFP reported
“The church was culpable because of criminal negligence resulting in the death of the victims.”
South African acting cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a statement on Wednesday that she hoped the inquest’s conclusion would bring closure to the families who had lost loved ones in the incident.
But Joshua, who is one of Nigeria’s most famous preachers, has dismissed a coroner’s ruling.
“The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) rejects the verdict of the coroner on the grounds that it is unreasonable, one-sided and biased,” the Lagos-based ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page.
“The church maintains its stand that the incident was as a result of sabotage,” it added. “We repeat: No matter how long a lie is sustained, the truth will someday prevail!”
The incident strained diplomatic relations between South Africa and Nigeria. The church’s rejection of the coroner’s findings caused further public anger in South Africa, with callers to a Johannesburg radio station accusing it of shirking responsibility.