Johannesburg - A legal battle looms after a sickly child, brought to Prophet Paseka Motsoeneng’s church to be prayed for, died in front of congregants at the weekend.
Police have confirmed that the girl, 3, died at the Incredible Happenings Ministries in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni, on Sunday after her mother took her there so that Motsoeneng, better known as Prophet Mboro, could pray for her recovery.
Ekurhuleni West police spokesperson Captain Lesetja Mathobela said a case of assault was opened by paramedics after a crew member was allegedly assaulted by Mboro and his followers.
“Information received by police is that a mother took her child to church to be prayed for. The child then vomited in church and an ambulance was called,” he said, adding that an altercation began after churchgoers accused the ambulance crew of arriving late.
“It has been confirmed that the child died in church. A postmortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Investigations are continuing,” Mathobela said.
Mboro denied the allegations, saying he respects and upholds the law and the constitution. He accused paramedics of being negligent and failing to give the child oxygen.
“The mother had brought her very sick child to me. When the paramedics arrived, I begged them to give the child oxygen and other emergency treatment but the paramedics wasted a lot of time reprimanding the mother and accusing the mother of neglecting her child.
“I told the paramedics that the child appeared to be dehydrated and needed immediate attention, but they ignored me and continued to berate the distraught mother,” Mboro said.
He added that he would help the child’s mother in her bid for justice for her child, starting with opening a case of culpable homicide today. “All I did was insist the child must be helped, which the emergency services personnel failed to do. (We will be) opening a case of culpable homicide in Alberton. Health workers are clearly untrained to deal with emergency situations in the field, and this matter must be remedied without any delay.
“As a church, we will always work with government officials to assist them in fulfilling their duties,” Mboro said.
Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services (DEMS) spokesperson William Ntladi said the staff member escaped with a cut on her face after being manhandled by Mboro and some of the congregants.
“Ambulance crew were called to Prophet Motsoeneng’s church in Katlehong for a collapsed case around 11.34 in the morning. On arrival, the crew took all relevant medical equipment with (them and walked) into the church building for patient assessment and treatment.
“Before they could do anything, the prophet... already (had) the child in his hands (loading) what seemed to be a lifeless body into the ambulance. Confrontation immediately started between the crew and the prophet, whereby a female ambulance driver was manhandled on scene by the prophet, supported by the congregation,” Ntladi said.
He said the crew called for back-up.
“The terrified driver had to lock herself in the fire engine as members of the church were baying for her blood, shouting abusive language,” Ntladi said. He lauded the police’s swift response, saying they had saved the situation.
Ntladi said advanced life-support paramedics were called to the scene and the girl was declared dead. The assaulted crew member was hospitalised after the incident.
Ntladi decried recent attacks on emergency services personnel.
In March, a paramedic was shot and killed near the Odi EMS base in Mabopane, Tshwane.
In July, personnel were assaulted and a fire engine shot at in the Dukathole informal settlement in Germiston.
In September, paramedics were attacked in Cosmo City after responding to a fake emergency report. They were unharmed.
In October, two paramedics were robbed at gunpoint in Alexandra, Joburg. The robbers made off with their wallets and cellphones. A few days later, two other attacks were reported in Ekurhuleni. Paramedics were robbed and assaulted at the Somalia settlement in Vosloorus and an ambulance was stoned in Palm Ridge.
“These attacks put massive tension onto the DEMS personnel and resources within the city (and) the impact on service delivery is huge,” Ntladi added.