Pretoria - Controversial Soshanguve “prophet” Penuel Mnguni has been arrested for making his congregants eat a live snake during a church service.
The head of the End Times Disciples Ministries was thus a no-show at his church’s Sunday service this weekend, where he had invited members of the media of witness how he performed “miracles”.
Police officers spent the entire day on Friday looking for him after charges had been laid against him by the SPCA, but could not locate him.
However, Mnguni was eventually arrested on Saturday, said Captain Rheineth Motlana, a spokesman for the police.
He spent the weekend in the Ga-Rankuwa police cells and will be appearing in the local magistrate’s court on Monday to face charges of cruelty to animals.
Inspector Andrew Kekana, of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said that after investigations, the organisation decided to lay charges against the prophet.
The charges relates to possession of indigenous protected snakes and cruelty to animals. “We believe it is our duty in instances where animal rights have been violated to prosecute those responsible for such violation,” said Kekana.
Mnguni, 27, made news headlines last week and was trending on social media platforms after he posted photos of numerous services in which he made his congregants strip naked, eat clothes, hair and even rode some of them like horses.
The latest of his antics which finally landed him in hot water with animal rights organisations was that of making members of his congregation eat a live snake.
Photos illustrating this were also posted on his Facebook page, with congregants saying the snake tasted like chocolate.
Arno Naude, of the Snake Bite Assist and Transvaal Herpetological Association, said they were happy that something had been done to stop the “heinous crimes committed by the pastor”.
Naude said: “We were dismayed at the sheer arrogance displayed by the pastor by being able to con people into killing a live snake in such an inhumane way.
“The capturing, selling and certainly killing of indigenous snakes is illegal and we would like to make sure that he is stopped in his tracks.
“We spend our whole lives trying to capture and remove the snakes from people’s homes and set them free in a safe environment. Can you imagine how it would be to eat the snake bit by bit while it is alive?”
Despite Mnguni’s absence, Sunday’s service continued. Before his arrest, he had invited all who wanted to see the miracles, but ushers at the entrance of the church did not want members of the media to take photos of the service.
Another pastor, who refused to speak to the media, told congregants not to fear what was happening to them as other people did not understand the work of God.
“They can’t stop the work of God by coming forth with claims that what the prophet was doing was cruelty to animals. We are simply doing the work of God.”