A South Africa pastor who sprays his congregation with insecticide has been widely condemned.
In a Facebook post, self-proclaimed prophet Lethebo Rabalago claims a pesticide called Doom can heal people.
The company that produces Doom warned of the risks of spraying the substance, while a government commission urged anyone affected to lodge complaints.
But the pastor has defended his actions, telling the BBC he is using unconventional methods to heal people.
The country has seen a wave of practices where church members have been subjected to unorthodox rituals to receive healing.
In photos circulating on Facebook and Twitter, Mr Rabalago, who runs the Mount Zion General Assembly in the Limpopo province, is seen spraying the insecticide directly into the eyes and various body parts of his congregants.
He told the BBC’s Nomsa Maseko in Johannesburg 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”.
He also claims the spray can heal cancer and HIV.
“Doom is just a name, but when you speak to it to become a healing product, it does. People get healed and delivered through doom,” a post on the church’s Facebook account reads.
Testimonies of people who have supposedly been healed by Doom have also been posted on the Facebook page.
In another interview, posted on the eNCA website, the pastor is heard saying: “The truth is, Doom can heal people in the right way.”
The dangers of worshipping some South African preachers:
Lesego Daniel, Rabboni Ministries
- The self-styled prophet in Pretoria instructed members of his congregation to drink petrol
- In 2014, Facebook images on the church’s website also showed his followers eating grass and flowers on his orders
Penuel Mnguni, End Times Disciples Ministries
- Dubbed “snake pastor” by local media
- The 25-year-old “man of God” reportedly started his church 2014 after training under Lesego Daniel.
- In 2015, Facebook images showed the self-proclaimed prophet feeding his members stones which he claimed to have turned into bread
- That same year, other images emerged of him feeding his followers snakes and rats, which they claimed had been turned into chocolate
- He has since been chased out of the Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, where his church was located
Lethebo Rabalago, Mount Zion General Assembly
- Posted a photo on Facebook which showed what looked like a large speaker on top of a person lying face-up on the ground
- In another photo, he is seen sitting on the speaker while a person remains underneath
- In 2016, he is photographed spraying insecticide into the faces of his followers, saying it will heal them
But Tiger Brands, the company that makes the product, says it finds the practice “alarming”.
“[We] want to make very clear that it is unsafe to spray Doom or any aerosol onto people’s faces,” the company said in a statement.
“Doom has been formulated to kill specific insects which are detailed on the cans, and the packaging has very clear warnings which must be adhered to,” the statement added.
The company said it was trying to contact the pastor to ask him to stop the practice.
Our correspondent reports that the government has set up a commission to investigate motives behind these practices.
South Africa’s Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities has also condemned the practice, which it says is “detrimental” to the well-being of people.
“The CRL Rights Commission encourages everyone whose rights and beliefs have been violated to report such to the Commission,” it said in a statement.
Many social media users have condemned his antics.
“It breaks my heart that our people are so desperate for change, they are so easily duped,” Twitter user Boity Thulo wrote.
But for others, it was not a situation to laugh over.