Online news media has been swept up by a satirical story about a Zimbabwean pastor who was supposedly eaten alive by crocodiles while demonstrating how Jesus walked on water.
Multiple tabloids have released a story claiming that Zimbabwean pastor Jonathan Mthethwa of the Saint of the Last Days church was attacked by three crocodiles in a South African river during his attempt to walk on water to demonstrate his faith.
Despite the story originating in Zimbabwe, the incident allegedly happened in an area known as Crocodile River in White River Mpumalanga in neighboring South Africa.
The National News Bulletin reported that the pastor supposedly fasted and prayed for a week before attempting to cross the Crocodile River on March 24.
According to the original story, the purported tragedy was witnessed by Deacon Nkosi, who said that the pastor taught his congregation about faith during a Sunday service.
"He promised he would demonstrate his faith to us today, but he unfortunately ended up drowning and getting eaten by 3 large crocodiles in front of us. We still don't understand how this happened because he fasted and prayed the whole week. They finished him in a couple of minutes," the deacon supposedly said.
"All that was left of him when they finished eating him is a pair of sandals and his underwear floating above the water," he continued.
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Snopes also noted that a Google search for the pastor's name only yielded results of the story that was published by several news outlets, without any proof that he existed prior to the claim. Some of the articles appear to have been withdrawn within hours after publication.
According to the fact-checking website, the story was not published by any news sources in Africa beyond the tabloids.