Johannesburg - Thanduxolo Doro was certain he had heard his sister’s footsteps. “The previous night I tried to pray and I thought I heard footsteps. I thought it was her.” But his joy was quickly dashed, he said on Wednesday.
It’s been three days since he was told that his sister, Vathiswa Madikiza, was one of 84 South Africans who were killed when the church guest house they were staying in collapsed in Lagos, Nigeria, two weeks ago.
Doro said his sister used to join him during his prayer sessions when she was in Gauteng, visiting him from Ilitha township near King William’s Town, Eastern Cape, where she was a high school teacher.
On Wednesday, Doro called on all the families affected by the disaster to take action against the head of the church, TB Joshua, who he called a charlatan.
Doro is not the only family member struggling to come to terms with Madikiza’s death.
“Yesterday morning (Tuesday) my mother woke up and said ‘No, my child is not dead, she must be injured’. I guess it’s something we will doubt until we see the body,” he said.
Doro said he had been informed by officials that they were awaiting the results of a DNA test performed on the body of the woman believed to be his sister.
Meanwhile, Doro has penned an open letter in which he has called on all affected families to unite against Joshua.
“She idolised the man but was in no way ready to commit the ultimate sacrifice for TB Joshua,” Doro wrote.
In the letter, he said families should file civil claims against the self-proclaimed pastor and advocate for him not only to be banned from South Africa, but from all southern African countries.
He told The Star on Wednesday that he had spoken to two families who were eager to join him, but no concrete plans had been made.
Although he struggled to get information about his sister from South African International Relations Department officials initially, he thanked the government for what it had done, including flying home 25 South African survivors on Monday.
“That sight made me proud to be South African, and for a moment it eased my pain a bit,” he wrote in his letter.
Doro said Madikiza was particularly concerned about teenage pregnancies in Ilitha.
“She was a very kind person, a very loving person, who was more concerned about other people’s troubles,” he said.
Imtiaz Sooliman, founder of Gift of the Givers, said on Wednesday they were “virtually done” with their relief efforts in Lagos.
“We just want to see if any other non-South Africans require assistance,” he said.
Gift of the Givers had made a list of South African survivors, and Sooliman had received about 50 calls from people in South Africa who were desperately hoping their relatives were on the list.
“Some say ‘Please check a second time’. The last two days, that’s all I have been doing,” Sooliman said.
He said it was heartbreaking to tell them their relatives were not among the identified survivors.
One woman who contacted Sooliman had lost her friend, but her cousin was listed as a survivor.
“My cousin informed me that she will be departing last night (Tuesday) and arriving this morning (Wednesday),” said Nolitha Ngada, speaking from King William’s Town.
Ngada had not spoken to her cousin – who sustained only minor injuries – at the time of publication on Wednesday.
“She didn’t tell me about what happened, and I want to know exactly what happened,” she said.