• One year after The Synagogue building collapse, families, survivors remember victims in S/Africa
WITH nostalgic feelings, families and survivors of the September 12, 2014 collapse of a guest house belonging to The Synagogue Church of All Nations in Ikotun, Lagos gathered last Saturday at Midrand, South Africa to remember and pray for the repose of the souls of their loved ones, who died in the incident. The day marked exactly a year since the tragedy that killed about 116 people, most of them South Africans.
Two months ago, a coroner court established by the Lagos State government as a result of the incident indicted the church for the collapse. The coroner also ruled that the church must be investigated and prosecuted for negligence, but the church which maintained that it played no role in the deaths of the deceased persons, has challenged the verdict of the coroner in a Federal High Court, Lagos.
However at the event which held at Midrand, South Africa, the survivors who travelled from all over the country to attend the special commemoration service, still believe Pastor Temitope B. Joshua should not be blamed for the tragedy. Family and survivors hailed Pastor Joshua as the “man of god” and their “father.”
The pastor, who could not attend the memorial service, sent a written message to the families and survivors saying their loved ones are with God. Swakile Ndlovu, who lost his father in the tragedy but travelled from Mpumalanga to attend the event to remember his legacy,said it has been a difficult year.
He said: “It’s been very tricky in terms of formulating family dynamics but by the grace of God it’s been manageable.” Also, Thembelihle Mamafa from Pretoria, who lost two of her family members, one of them her husband, still believes it was God’s will that her husband had to die. “I also believe that God has allowed it to happen.”
Veronica Mathebula, who also lost her husband in the tragedy, said after Joshua’s message that she has peace about her husband’s death. “It’s okay, I can let go now.
Somehow I believe the prophet was talking to me so I’m fine,” she said. Meanwhile the church has maintained that it cannot be held liable for the collapse, reaffirming its belief that a plane which flew close to the building prior to the collapse caused the tragedy.
The church said no explosives were used, but believed some kind of infrasonic sound weapon was used to bring the guest house down. Spokesperson of the church, Kirsten Nematandani said: “Those sounds are bombarded on the building, the building tended to resonate.
In every structure there are atoms and once those atoms are excited, they begin to shake, and that is how we concluded the building came down.” Infrasonic sound is a low frequency which humans can’t hear.
Nematandani said an inquiry set up to investigate what caused the building to cave in, didn’t even consider the scientific explanation. It will be recalled that one Lindiwe Ndwandwe survived the tragedy by drinking her own urine while trapped under a pile of rubbles for five days.
Ndwandwe was also quoted as saying that those who survived have formed a support group and still find it difficult to come to terms with the trauma. “We’ve been contacting them, visiting each other, now even made a group of WhatsApp as survivors to keep on checking each and every morning, how are you, are you coping.
Have you overcome those stresses? She said one year later she still has nightmares. “When I am in a building I feel the shakes, I hear the sound, and it just comes back automatically.” Ndwandwe says she still supports Pastor TB Joshua saying his critics are being unfair.
Meanwhile, the survivors have called on the church to preserve the site where the building collapsed, so they can revisit the area with families in the future.
According to Ndwandwe, she wants to take her daughter back to the site of the collapsed guesthouse next year. “I would love for the synagogue church to keep the place as it is, so that when we go, we can see the place where it happened,” she added.