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The theology of prosperity

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MASERU – EVERY Sunday morning, the faithful members of the Healing the World church gather together singing moving hymns at their premises in Khubetsoana.
A loud piano is belting beautiful melodies as a young man, wearing a suit and shiny, pointed shoes walked in.

Everyone, including the elderly, stood up in reverence and awe.
But most important for the dozens of congregants is the hope, and unswerving belief that this young man holds the answers to their problems.
Some want their ailments or those of their relatives they have brought to the service healed. Others are praying for a miracle to make them rich. Others want jobs.

“Prophesy man of God,” the worshippers would intermittently shout in chorus as an animated Pastor Thabiso Mafisa told them he is God’s messenger from Matatiele in South Africa.
Referring to Bible verses, he asked them to dutifully pay the tithe (boshome), 10% of what the worshippers get on a monthly basis. He told them that coins were unacceptable.

Bank notes rained from the pockets of the worshippers, but the pastor still wanted more so he brought two more separate envelopes – one for planting (oa jala), the other for monehelo.
“I cut the spirit of coins in Jesus’ name,” he would shout whilst also marketing some “annointing oil” he claimed would cast out demons and bad luck as well as cure a host of ailments.

“You are healed in Jesus’ name,” he would shout.
The pastor would tell the worshippers that he would pray for those who do not have jobs and those struggling to conceive.
“Receive your financial pregnancy in Jesus’ name,” the Pastor would say.
“We receive Pastor,” the congregation responded in unison.

Such scenes are now commonplace in Lesotho, where the prosperity gospel is taking root and nudging out of the limelight traditional Christian religions.
Most of these prophets, who are “miracle workers”, are young and are quick to flaunt their wealth which they argue is a clear sign that they are the “real Men of God”.

For them material prosperity is a sign of God’s approval.
Believers are promised instant material rewards, only if they keep their side of the bargain by “giving a tithe to God”.
Their relationship to God is therefore almost transactional.
The message is seductive in a country where the majority live on less than one United States dollar a day.

Critics however say the “pastors” and “prophets” who claim to possess supernatural powers are merely preying on people who are desperate for healing and wealth.
Many times, some worshippers are lined up to give testimonies of how their fortunes changed for the better after getting help from the “prophet” or “pastor”.

“I have been struggling to get a job. But since I attended this church, doors have opened,” one worshipper said amid ululations.
The Pastor jumped up and down in seeming ecstasy.
These kinds of churches are also known to rebuke Basotho culture and traditions and bar followers from using herbs for medicinal purposes.
Some of the Pastors approach radio stations and buy advertising space to propagate their message which quickly finds takers among Basotho.

They claim to have the power to heal and invite people to come to their churches for life-changing miracles.
The growth of these churches has ignited heated debate in the country, with both supporters and critics fiercely making their point.

Many were left in shock last year when Pastor Makhado Sinthumule Ramabulana told a South African radio station, Lesedi FM, that he had used “black magic” to attract followers to his church.
He claimed that he studied theology in South Africa for three years but later left for Nigeria to study black magic together with his right-hand men.
He claimed that he was advised to take the head of a pig, add some herbs to it and bury it at his church premises.

Pastor Ramabulane, who claimed to have converted, alleged that most of the churches (tsa pholoho) use evil spirits and witchcraft to pull crowds.
Dr Lipalesa Mathe, a sociologist, said people have a right to believe in a faith of their choice, although people also have to work on their own to make it in life.
“If the pastors say someone will get you a job, there is no way that the person would get a job while sitting at home. They have to look for a job and apply for it,” she said.

She referred to Max Weber, one of the fathers of Sociology, and his work on the authorities of leadership.
“One of them is the charismatic leadership,” she said, giving the example of Shepherd Bushiri, the disgraced Malawian “prophet” who fled from South Africa’s criminal justice system but still attracts thousands of followers.
She said another sociologist, Auguste Comte, noted that a man has to go through three progressions: the theological stage, metaphysical stage and positive stage.

Unfortunately most people fail to make it to the positive stage because it needs scientific analysis.
She said a Pastor’s job is to assess the minds and spirits of the people to convince them that certain things would happen.

Dr Mathe said people could give their money and valuables to the Pastor with a belief that they would get the riches and fortunes in return.
She said because of aspirations, dreams and insecurities, people believe that what they are told and promised by pastors.
Yet, in many cases, it is the pastors who make it in life.
“These pastors are trying to survive,” Dr Mathe said.

Staff Reporter

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Doctor tampers with corpse

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THE Mokhotlong Government Hospital has agreed to pay M200 000 as compensation to the husband of a deceased patient after a doctor unlawfully tampered with the corpse.

There is a deed of settlement between the hospital and Jacob Palime, the deceased woman’s husband.

Jacob Palime rushed to the High Court in Tšifa-li-Mali last year after the hospital failed to explain why the doctor had tampered with his wife’s corpse at a private mortuary behind his back.

His wife’s body had been taken to the Lesotho Funeral Services.
Palime lives in Phahameng in Mokhotlong.

In his court papers, Palime was demanding M500 000 in compensation from the hospital “for unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with” his rituals and rights over his dead wife.

He informed the court that his wife died in September 2020 at Mokhotlong Hospital.

“All requisite documentation pertaining to her release to Lesotho Funeral Services were effected and ultimately the deceased was accordingly transferred to the mortuary,” Palime said.

The court heard that Palime’s family was subsequently informed about the wife’s death.

The family however learnt that one doctor, acting in his professional capacity, went to the mortuary the next day and tampered with the corpse.

The doctor subsequently conducted certain tests on the corpse without the knowledge of family members.

Palime said their attempts to get an explanation from the hospital as to the purpose of the tests and the name of the doctor had failed to yield results.

“It remained questionable and therefore incomprehensible as to what actually was the purpose or rationale behind conducting such anonymous and secret tests,” he said.

Palime told the court that the whole thing left him “in an unsettled state of mind for a long time”.

He said his family, which has its traditions and culture rooted in the respect for their departed loved ones, regards and considers Mokhotlong Hospital’s conduct as an unlawful invasion, intrusion and interference with his rituals and rights over his deceased spouse.

“This is more-so because the hospital had all the opportunity to have conducted any or such alleged tests immediately upon demise of the deceased while still within its area of jurisdiction and not after her release to the mortuary,” he said.

Palime said despite incessant demands, the hospital has failed, refused, ignored and neglected to cooperate with him “to amicably solve this unwarranted state of affairs”.

Palime told the court that there were no claims against the Lesotho Funeral Service as they had cooperated and compensated him for wrongly allowing the doctor to perform tests on the corpse without knowledge or presence of one of the family members.

’Malimpho Majoro

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Villagers whipped as police seize guns

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Dozens of villagers in Ha-Rammeleke in Khubelu, Mokhotlong, were on Monday night rounded up and beaten with sticks and whips by the police during an operation to seize illegal guns.

The villagers told thepost that they heard one man crying out for help saying his wife was sick. And when they rushed to his house, they found the police waiting for them.

The police had stormed the man’s house and ordered him to “cry for help” to lure men from the village.

The men and women were then frog-marched outside the village where the police assaulted the men with sticks, whips, and kicked them.

One man said when he arrived at the house, he found other villagers who were now surrounded by armed police.

“At first I thought they were soldiers but later picked up that they were SOU (Special Operations Unit) members,” he said.

He said they were subjected to severe torture.

“They beat us with sticks at the same time demanding guns from us,” he said.

The police and soldiers also raided other nearby villages in Khubelu area but in Ha-Rammeleke villagers say they identified only police from the Special Operations Unit (SOU).

Several villagers who spoke to thepost asked for anonymity for fear of retribution.

This was the second time within a month that the security forces have raided the villages in search of illegal guns after a spate of gory murders in the areas.

The murders are perpetrated by famo music gangs who are fighting over illegal gold mining in South Africa.

The first raid was on Wednesday preceding Good Friday.

Villagers say a group of armed soldiers stormed the place in the wee hours collecting almost every one to the chief’s place.

“We were woken-up by young soldiers who drove us to the chief’s place,” one resident of Ha-Rammeleke said.

When they arrived at the chief’s home all hell broke loose.

A woman told thepost that they were split into two groups of women and men.

Later, women were further split into two groups of the elderly and younger ones.

She said the security officers assaulted the men while ordering the elderly women to ululate.

Young women were ordered to run around the place like they were exercising.

She said the men were pushed into a small hut where they were subjected to further torture.

A man who was among the victims said the army said they should produce the guns and help them identify the illegal miners.

He said this happened after one man in their village was fatally shot by five unknown men in broad daylight.

He said the men who killed the fellow villager had their faces covered with balaclavas and they could not see who they were.

 

The villagers chased them but they could not get close to them because they were armed with guns.

“We were armed with stones while those men were armed with guns,” he said.

“They fired a volley of bullets at us and we retreated,” he said.

The murdered man was later collected by the police.

The army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Sakeng Lekola, confirmed that soldiers stormed Khubelu area in response to the rampant lawlessness of unlicensed guns.

Lt Col Lekola said their presence in the area followed two incidents of shootings where one man was fatally shot and a child sustained serious gunshot wounds.

“There were reports everywhere, even on the radios, that things were out of hand in Khubelu,” he said.

He said in just a day they managed to collect six guns that were in wrong hands together with more than 100 rounds (bullets) in an operation dubbed Deuteronomy 17.

These bullets included 23 rounds of Galil rifle.

Lt Col Lekola maintained that their operation was successful because they managed to collect guns from wrong hands.

He said they are doing this in line with the African Union principle of ‘silencing the guns’.

He said it is an undeniable fact that statistics of people killed with guns is disturbing.

“We appeal to these people to produce these unlicensed guns,” Lt Col Lekola said.

Lt Col Lekola said they could not just watch Basotho helplessly as they suffered.

He said some people are seen just flaunting their guns.

“They fear no one,” he said.

Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Kabelo Halahala, said he was aware of the operation in Mokhotlong but did not have further details.

Majara Molupe

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Magistrate saves WILSA boss

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A Maseru magistrate, Nthabiseng Moopisa, this week stayed the criminal prosecution of Advocate ’Mamosa Mohlabula who is accused of tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.

In her application Advocate Mohlabula, who is the director of Women and Law in Southern Africa (WILSA), said the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) should not charge her pending finalisation of her tax evasion case.

Advocate Mohlabula is out on bail after she was formally charged with tax evasion in July last year.

She told Magistrate Moopisa that the DPP, Advocate Hlalefang Motinyane, was wrong to have agreed with the Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Offences (DCEO) to bring charges against her.

“In my viewpoint, the DCEO cannot be heard to charge me in relation to matters already seized with this Honourable Court,” she said in an affidavit.

She also said there is a pending civil case in the High Court in which the DCEO’s abuse of power is referenced, saying the precise way the case is handled will depend “on the way an alleged offence comes to the light”.

“Before that pending case is finalised, DCEO has no jurisdiction to detail me to court over isolated phenomenon of tax evasion and or over grievances of former employees of WILSA,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula was charged together with the WILSA’s chief accounting officer.

She argued that it was WILSA that was being investigated, not individuals, further saying that was “a significant safeguard that the DCEO was impartial from an objective viewpoint”.

“To exclude any legitimate doubt in this respect the DCEO returned the items it seized from WILSA,” she said.

“This was a realistic and practical step towards administering justice and to avoid premature embarrassment to the management of WILSA.”

She said the Board of Trustees of WILSA were sent briefing notes which in certain respects reflected that the DCEO returned the properties of WILSA without warning them that they were suspects.

“In any event, we proceeded to fashion our arguments before the High Court. There was, and could be, no evidence to back up the decision of the DCEO to apply for the search warrant,” she said.

Advocate Mohlabula said before they took the matter to the High Court, she cooperated with the DCEO and it conducted an inquiry into the alleged crimes.

“Now that the matter is pending before the High Court, there is no more reason for the DCEO to remand me before the pending cases are finalised,” she said.

Staff Reporter

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