Reports that two suspects were arrested first broke on Tuesday, and they appeared in court on Wednesday in relation to a case involving Pastor Alph Lukau’s Alleluia International Ministries church in Johannesburg.
They face charges related to the staged resurrection of a Zimbabwean man known as Brighton Elliott Moyo, whose case made international headlines in February. They were accused of fraud by funeral companies that claim they were duped into participating in the scheme.
The Kings and Queens Funeral Service company have repeatedly said their hearse had been used under false pretences. The Black Phoenix Funeral Parlour also distanced themselves from the affair.
Forty-year-old Silungisan Grace Sibanda and the 35-year-old Nkululeko Dlamini appeared in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday and will remain behind bars until their next appearance on April 26, IOL reports.
The state reportedly says that one of the suspects has one name on his ID, with another on his passport, so his citizenship is being verified.
The church sprang to prominence when Lukau staged his alleged resurrection at his church.
Lukau referred to the “resurrectee” as Elliot, although the Zimbabwean man in question has also been called Brighton Moyo and allegedly passed away earlier this month in Zimbabwe under a different name.
Lukau and his lawyers have claimed that Elliot had been totally unknown to Lukau prior to the “miracle”. They were not represented in court on Wednesday.
Subsequent investigations saw numerous allegations of fraud and deception levelled against the church.
The church allegedly preys on and recruits the poor, and immigrants in particular, with one person interviewed in a current affairs show, Cutting Edge, Samantha Revesai, claiming she was asked to fake her HIV-positive status and play along with the ruse that she had been healed after supposedly living with the disease for three years.
She claimed the church had offered her payments of R1,500 per month to stick to the story. The church allegedly also created fraudulent medical paperwork using her name in an attempt to convince congregants that she’d gone from being HIV positive to negative.
An individual named Blessing Kwemelao claimed to have recruited people such as Revesai to be part of Lukau’s “miracles”, with his recruits allegedly then trained to act as though they had various disabilities that could be healed, or to play along that they’d been cured of disease, including cancer.
Kwemelao admitted he had worked as part of three to four teams to find people to allegedly take part in staged miracles. He said that, due to his strong build, he had helped to carry actors with fake disabilities and had given people stage cues during services for when they should come forward to claim they’d been healed.
Elliot’s timber yard employer, Vincent Amoretti, repeated allegations last month that he had heard his employee had previously done “stunts” with the church.
“From what I can understand, his wife, sister and aunt work with the pastor (Alph Lukau). And that’s how he got in.”
He added this week that he did not know if his former employee has indeed passed on.
(Edited by Charles Cilliers)