Congregants from the controversial End Times Disciples Ministries in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, had to conduct Sunday’s church service under the hot sun in full view of curious onlookers.
Earlier irate members of the community and EFF members stormed the church, where congregants have in recent weeks reportedly been fed snakes and rats by their pastor, Penuel Mnguni.
Last month Mnguni was arrested and charged with animal cruelty after the SPCA laid a complaint. At the time the animal rights body said the practice of feeding rodents and snakes to congregants were traumatic to children who attended his church sermons.
However, the charges were provisionally withdrawn pending further police investigations.
Yesterday concerned residents and members of the EFF descended on the church – a huge white marquee in a yard in extension 13. They demanded to speak to anyone with authority at the church.
No one took notice of their demands. Ignoring the interference, an elder continued preaching and occasionally drew responses of “Hallelujah, Amen” from the congregation.
Not happy with being ignored, the group of about 300 residents and EFF members became agitated.
Some shouted “Let’s burn this church … to hell with this pastor who is destroying our community”. The commotion soon developed into a physical confrontation with some church members exchanging blows with their detractors.
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Minutes later the huge tent was set alight. Police were called but by the time they arrived, the tent had burnt to the ground.
A police officer was heard asking a congregant where the pastor was and he was told “he’s long gone”. Before the marquee was burned down pastor Mnguni had been very actively preparing for the service.
Asked for an interview by The Citizen, the controversial pastor said: “Not now, we are preparing for our service.”
EFF Gauteng spokesperson Ntobeng Ntobeng said they were invited by members of the community to go and see what was happening inside the church.
“The community is very concerned about congregants being fed snakes and rats to eat and have therefore called on us to come and assist them in ensuring that such practices come to an end. This particular thug is not a pastor, but an entrepreneur who must not be given an opportunity to address any community because of his thuggish ways,” said Ntobeng.
He also issued a stern warning to what he called “other mushrooming pastors” that they will not be allowed in the townships anymore.