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Mbabane: A Christian church in Mambane in northern Swaziland was destroyed at the weekend by a group of witchdoctors under orders from the area’s chief. The Pool of Bed Church, under the leadership of a self-described prophetess, Siyinile Mhlanga, was proving too much competition for the traditional healers, known as tinyanga.

“We were losing customers because the people are flocking to be cured with the miracle power of the prophetess instead of relying on our magical potions,” Jabu Ndwandwe, a witchdoctor, said. “Our magic is (founded) on the ancestors and is tried and true. But people always like new things. We had to destroy that church to save our practices.”

The area’s inner council authorised the church’s demolition and summoned Mhlanga to a hearing before the Mambane community on Sunday. However, Mhlanga arrived alone, breaching customary protocol.

“My husband is in South Africa,” she explained to the tribunal.

The council ordered her to return with her husband later this week. In Swazi law, women are legal minors and cannot speak for themselves. A husband is required to represent his wife at official hearings and must sign contracts for her.

Mhlanga admitted that from the time she started performing healing miracles in the area, business had dropped for the witchdoctors. She did not divulge the nature of the miracle cures, citing prophetess-client confidentiality.

The church’s congregation has swollen to 500 in recent weeks, about a quarter of the area’s population. – Independent Foreign Service.

The Star