A teenage girl was allegedly beaten, throttled and knocked unconscious by two female church “prophets” trying to rid her of “demons”.
The girl’s family from Amalinda, in East London are furious over the incident involving their 13-year-old daughter and the two leaders from the Love of God Church in Daza location in Tsomo.
Unathi Zwakala, who stays with her grandmother in the town, said she regularly attended the church.
Unathi said she was sitting in the congregation last Monday when she and another person were called to the front to be prayed for.
Unathi said they were made to sit on chairs with one woman standing in front of her and another behind her. They then started praying over her.
She said the women shook her to the point where she could no longer take it.
“It was painful, so I tried to stand up and move back, and that is when they pushed me to the floor, held me down and started beating me,” she said.
The teen said that when she screamed, one of the women – who had her knees on the girl’s chest – started to strangle her and hit her head against the floor.
“I cried and begged them to stop. I even said the demons were gone thinking they would let me go, but they continued and no one came to stop them.”
Unathi said the two women continued to hit her until she lost consciousness. When she came to, the service was over and the congregation had left.
“I forced myself to get up, but my body was in pain and I could not walk. My nose was bleeding and my head pounding.
“The ladies who I had gone to church with carried me home.”
The teen’s mother, Gcotyelwa Zwakala, said she received a message from her daughter requesting that she call her immediately.
Zwakala said she travelled to Tsomo the following morning.
“I was so shocked to see my daughter so badly bruised. Churches are supposed to protect their members, not hurt them.”
Zwakala took her daughter to a doctor for treatment.
She also contacted pastor Phila Ndabula from the church, who apologised saying nothing like that had ever happened in the church before.
Zwakala requested that Ndabula arrange a meeting with the two women who allegedly beat up Unathi, but he allegedly refused.
She then tried to get hold of the women and managed to speak to one who was “rude and cheeky”.
The other allegedly apologised over the phone and agreed to meet with the family but never arrived for the meeting.
Zwakala said she had initially feared that reporting the matter to police would not lead anywhere, but was reconsidering her decision as she wanted the two women to be held accountable for what they had done.
Contacted for comment, Ndabula told the Dispatch he was aware of the incident as he was in church the day it took place.
He said the two “prophets” worked under him and were praying for the teenager at the time.
“We always pray for people at church, this is not a new practice.
“Her [Unathi’s] eye was only swollen because she was rolling around and might have injured herself then.
“The only mistake the prophets made was to hold her hands, but this was because she was rolling around “fighting the demons” and they had to hold her down.”
The Dispatch attempted to get hold of the two women but was unsuccessful at the time of writing.
Unathi’s class teacher Cikizwa Magaga confirmed the teen had turned up at school in a “very bad state” after the incident.
Magaga said Unathi had been battling to concentrate since the incident and out of concern the school had let her go home as she had completed most of her exams.
Reverend Lulama Ntshingwa, of the South African Council of Churches, condemned acts of violence against people, as well as abuse of power in churches.
He urged the family to report the matter to the police. — firstname.lastname@example.org