Pretoria - Penuel Mnguni cut a different figure to the charismatic one the public has become accustomed to, outside the Magistrate’s Court in Ga-Rankuwa on Monday.
The miracle man, prophet and leader of the End Times Disciples Ministries in Soshanguve was subdued, despite charges against him being provisionally withdrawn.
Mnguni, 27, was arrested on Saturday at his home after the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) laid a charge of animal abuse against him.
He was to appear for bail at the magistrate’s court. But by late morning, the prophet was already a free man.
He sat in the back seat of a red Renault Clio and refused to speak. Visibly upset members of his church stood around the car guarding him against a strong media contingent.
Mnguni opened the car door briefly and asked that he be left alone.
SPCA official Mishack Matlou, who was present to monitor proceedings, said they were stunned that Mnguni had already been released. He said the SPCA had not been informed of what had happened.
“We thought he was still behind bars, only for us to see him in the parking lot.
“We did not want to oppose bail as such, but just to ensure that certain bail provisions are put in place to ensure that he won’t repeat the offence or flee,” he said.
“We are still happy that the matter will be looked into by the police. We are shocked by his actions and the impact that it will have on people’s attitude towards animals.
“It can’t be that we let go of someone who is brazen enough to showcase his cruelty to animals like that.”
Police spokesman Warrant Officer Matthews Nkoadi confirmed that Mnguni had indeed been granted “police bail” of R1 000 on Sunday.
“The matter was not placed on the court roll as the prosecutor felt there was insufficient information to proceed. As such, the case was provisionally withdrawn and police will assist the SPCA in gathering information on the matter,” he said.
The charge related to the possession of indigenous protected snakes and cruelty to animals.
He had posted photos on his Facebook page of his church service, showing members of his congregation eating a live snake. Some of them claimed the snake tasted like chocolate.
Mnguni’s show of God’s power ranged from making congregants strip naked, jumping on and riding members like horses, and having them eat hair or cloth. The activities in the church had made headlines countrywide over the past two weeks.