Hundreds of unemployed people anticipated manna from heaven recently when a travelling evangelist promised to link them to 4000 jobs that would arise from imminent overseas business ventures in KZN.
Word that an abundance of unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled jobs would become available at factories producing medical products in Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Richards Bay by a Brazilian consortium spread throughout the province.
The preacher, who is known only as “Pastor Tony”, had the message of hope circulated via pamphlets in the Sydenham area and 500 people responded to his call and gathered at a local school, last month.
But Pastor Tony has since been accused of being a false prophet because none of the attendees who submitted a page-long CV, as he requested, were contacted.
Two weeks later, more than 2000 job seekers, of all races and from corners of KZN, responded to another of his invitations.
The message which went viral told them to congregate at a school in Chatsworth. Pastor Tony did not honour the appointment. His no show on that occasion left Vuyile Cele, a security guard at the Chatsworth school, with the mammoth task of appeasing the large crowd that had gathered and were baying for answers.
Cele said the first person arrived before 6am for the 10.30 meeting with the pastor, on the day in question, and the queue of people snaked around the sports field and into the street.“It was hectic.”
Cele said the people became very agitated when they were kept waiting well after midday and accused the school of misleading them.
“They got very frustrated and argued and fought among themselves.”
Cele said she and some of the school’s governing body members got the people to place their CVs in a box, which would be handed to the pastor.
“Every day, I get people coming to the school asking if there has been any developments and looking for the pastor’s contact details,” said Cele.
The principal of the school who asked not to be named, said all they did was to facilitate the pastor’s request for a venue to engage with the people.
“I granted permission because I thought it would be beneficial to the community which includes many unemployed people from our local informal settlement.
“I was bombarded with calls from police, councillors and community activists on the day.”
The principal said they had since lost respect for the pastor and decided they would only hand the CVs to the respective companies, once that has been established. “The CVs are confidential and we will not disclose people’s personal information irresponsibly,” said the principal.
The principal of the Sydenham school said Pastor Tony, who had learnt about the job opportunities during a conference in Cape Town where he met business heads, visited his school this week.
The Sydenham principal, who also asked not to be named, said Pastor Tony apologised for not making the Chatsworth appointment and intended to reschedule that meeting.
“He said that he was involved in an accident in Richards Bay and his phone was damaged. Therefore, he could not meet people in Chatsworth.”
The Sydenham principal said he also saw the jobs offered by the pastor, as an opportunity to empower families in the community that the school served.
“I thought that with more parents from our community employed, it would improve our school fees’ collections.
“We did emphasise to everyone that we were not connected to Pastor Tony and the opportunities that he said he could provide, but merely gave him permission to use our school to meet with people from the community,” said the principal.
Raees Mahomed of Offset Printers in Mayville said they believed they were doing a good deed when they agreed to print 400 copies of the pamphlets without charge for Pastor Tony. “He was a walk-in customer and spoke to my dad (Farhad) about what he required.
“But now we are getting many calls from people asking about the pastor. Some are from places like Ladysmith and Stanger (KwaDukuza) because our number is at the bottom of the flyer,” said Mahomed.
Nathi Olifant spokesperson for the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs said they had no knowledge of the Brazilian business ventures in KZN.