Ricochet News

SCOAN guesthouse collapse: Eastern Cape families may finally get justice

Jul 9, 2015
SCOAN guesthouse collapse: Eastern Cape families may finally get justice

The results of an inquest into the collapse of a guest house, owned by Nigerian preacher TB Joshua’s Synagogue Church of all Nations (SCOAN), which killed 116 people last year - 13 were from the Eastern Cape, has been welcomed by government.

“Government notes the ruling that the Synagogue Church of all Nations must be investigated and prosecuted for negligence,” said acting cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams in a statement on Wednesday.

Williams said she hoped the inquest’s conclusion would bring closure to the families who had lost loved ones in the incident.

Most of the dead were South Africans - 81 of them.

AFP reported that coroner Oyetade Komolafe said in his ruling that the church must be investigated for not obtaining the relevant approval before embarking on the construction of the building.

"The church was culpable because of criminal negligence resulting in the death of the victims," he said.

Komolafe also called for the prosecution of the two engineers contracted to the church.

The coroner's inquest was called to determine the circumstances of the collapse of the guest house for foreign followers of Joshua's SCOAN on September 12 last year.

In the immediate aftermath of the collapse, Joshua, a self-styled faith healer known to his followers as "The Prophet" and "The Man of God", claimed that aerial sabotage or an explosion may have caused the collapse.

Komolafe dismissed Joshua's claims in his ruling, which recorded that the victims most likely died from multiple injuries, including fractured skulls, caused by the collapse, AFP reported.

"The collapse was as a result of structural failures," he said.

Supporters of Joshua reportedly gathered outside the court in anticipation of the ruling but there was no sign of the preacher.