Angry Duduza residents want to kick out ‘cult pastor’ 

Listen to this article

By Doreen Mokgolo

The residents of Duduza on the East Rand took to the streets on Thursday to demand that Pastor Vusi Hlatswayo of the Immanuel Word of Ministry leave the area. 

They allege the pastor is a beneficiary of insurance policies and homes belonging to pensioners, and is collecting social welfare grants intended for the church’s congregants.

The move against the pastor follows the mysterious death of Winnie Nkosi, 33, on 23 February.

Winnie moved out of her home to live at the church with other young people four years ago after her family found nude pictures and sexual conversations between her and the pastor on her cellphone. 

Speaking to Scrolla.Africa, Winnie’s mother, Elsie Nkosi, said she wants justice for her daughter. She said the pastor took Winnie when she was alive but now she is dead, her family has been denied answers.

“After completing her matric my daughter moved to the church, refusing to study further or find a job,” Nkosi said.

Youth members living at the church are allegedly not allowed access to the outside world. 

“My daughter died a painful death,” said Nkosi. “The clinic confirmed that she died before she arrived at the clinic and she was dumped as an unknown person.

“Her post-mortem revealed that they found rat poison which had not spread to her organs. Her left foot and arm were broken. There were bruises on her face.” 

A former congregant, Ntebaleng Selepe, 41, said her marriage ended when her husband found chats with the pastor on her phone in which he allegedly asked her to send him nude photos of herself. 

“The pastor asked me to send him my pictures touching myself while he prayed on the other side,” she said, “but I refused.”

Another Duduza resident, Themba Xaba, said the pastor is listed as a beneficiary on the title deed of his grandmother’s house.

In addition, he said: “We had to fight to get her pension grant card back”.

Hlatswayo described the residents’ protest and the allegations against him as a smear campaign by other pastors colluding with the Nkosi family to rubbish his reputation. 

“This is a test that I will overcome. I am not shaken and not going anywhere. I have been a pastor in this area for 20 years, and only now they are claiming that I use magic and snakes. I use holy oil and pray for my congregants.”

When asked why he is listed as a beneficiary on some of his congregants’ policies and the title deeds of their homes, Hlatswayo said he didn’t know why, but that the members were only giving to the church. 

Ekurhuleni SAPS spokesperson Captain Neldah Sekgobela confirmed that police have opened an inquest into Nkosi’s death.

“There is high police visibility at the church and we continue to monitor the situation,” she said. 

Pictured above: Residents protest outside the Immanuel Word of Ministry church. 

Image source: Doreen Mokgolo


Recent articles