Family turns to AfriForum for TB Joshua church collapse victim

Time is running out for families of more than 80 people who died when a guest house at the evangelist TB Joshua's Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria collapsed, with the matter set to be prescribed in that country in a month. Families have been advised that the applicable prescription period in Nigeria for a civil claim is six years, which means the civil claims will prescribe next month. "This means no civil claims can be brought against the church or TB Joshua in connection with the incident after September," said Lwandle Mkhulisi, whose sister died in the tragedy....
Time is running out for families of more than 80 people who died when a guest house at the evangelist TB Joshua's Synagogue Church of All Nations in Nigeria collapsed, with the matter set to be prescribed in that country in a month.

Families have been advised that the applicable prescription period in Nigeria for a civil claim is six years, which means the civil claims will prescribe next month.

"This means no civil claims can be brought against the church or TB Joshua in connection with the incident after September," said Lwandle Mkhulisi, whose sister died in the tragedy.

"In July 2015, a coroner's inquest found the collapse was as a result of negligence. Yet no one has been successfully prosecuted for the negligence and now we may not even have a shot at civil claims for damages."

He said they have been advised to seek legal representative in Nigeria since the tragedy occurred there and a civil claim could only be brought before a Nigerian court. But they had no financial and logistical resources to do so. In a desperate search for justice, the family has since approached the private prosecution wing of Afrikaner civil rights movement AfriForum.

"I have knocked on many doors with no assistance and have nowhere else to go so we have faith in AfriForum," Mkhulisi said.

Senior advocate Elijah Mamabolo, prosecutor at AfriForum's private prosecution unit headed by Gerrie Nel, confirmed they were looking into the matter.

"The only thing we can say at this stage is that the family has approached AfriForum and we will assist," Mamabolo said.

Mkhulisi's 47-year-old sister, Phumzile, of Wattville in Ekurhuleni, died when the church's dormitories collapsed on 12 September 2014, killing 116 people – 85 of them South Africans. He said they were hopeful that the SA government would assist but have since been told it was a private matter that did not involve the state.

"Our last hope now is AfriForum because it cannot be that so many people die and no one takes responsibility," Mkhulisi said.

His sister was the last to be buried as the family fought tooth and nail with the government about her identity as the family sought to bury the right person. It was only after five months and three DNA tests that they buried her remains.

"This has been a traumatic experience. We won't rest until there is some sort of justice."

For more news your way, download The Citizen's app for iOS and Android.