South African court finds pastor guilty of assault for 'healing' followers with insecticide

(Facebook/MZGA)Lethebo Rabalago of Mount Zion General Assembly is seen in this image spraying pesticide on the face of church members.

A court in South Africa has found a pastor guilty of assault for spraying his followers with insecticide, claiming that they would be healed of diseases like cancer and HIV.

Lethebo Rabalago, who runs the Mount Zion General Assembly, has been found guilty on three charges of contravening South Africa's Agricultural Act by spraying insecticide on people, according to Face to Face Africa.

The pastor drew controversy in 2016 when videos showed that he had been spraying congregants with Doom insecticide claiming that it could cure illnesses. In photos posted on social media, Rabalago can be seen spraying the insecticide directly into the eyes and various body parts of church members.

At the time, the pastor explained that he had sprayed the face of one woman because she had an eye infection and claimed the woman was "just fine because she believed in the power of God."

Magistrate Frans Mahodi told the court on Friday that the state had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that the five people who brought assault charges were violated.

"The fact that these people were sprayed on their faces with Doom makes this offence worst of its kind. There is no doubt that the action of the accused of spraying people with Doom injured victims seriously. This was a dangerous act committed by the accused," Mahodi said, adding that some of the victims had suffered "detrimental side effects... like coughing for more than seven months" after the incident.

The case against Rabalago was opened by the Limpopo Health Department. Thabiso Teffo, the spokesperson for the department, said that the government was pleased by the court ruling.

"We're excited on the basis that courts are able to realise that if we don't do much more prevention, in the future we might have people suffering from various illnesses from this pastor spraying them with Doom. We hope there will be a clarion call to all those pastors who want to do similar acts," he said.

Rabalago's case was just one of several incidents of South African pastors using unconventional methods in their ministries.

In 2014, members of Rabboni Ministries were seen eating grass and flowers on the orders of Lesego Daniel, a self-styled prophet in Pretoria. Daniel had also reportedly instructed church members to drink petrol.

Penuel Mnguni, who founded End Times Disciples Ministries in 2014 after training under Daniel, had appeared in Facebook images in 2015, showing the self-proclaimed prophet feeding his followers stones which he claimed to have turned to bread.

Other pictures have shown Mnguni feeding snakes and rats to church members, claiming that they had been turned into chocolates.

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