Johannesburg - Three Joburg funeral services companies have slapped Prophet Alph Lukau with a lawsuit for “reputational damage” after the Alleluia Ministries International (AMI) church leader used their hearse to perform a hoax in which he claimed to have resurrected a dead person.
Three funeral parlours - Kings & Queens, Black Phoenix and Kingdom Blue - said they had opened criminal charges against Lukau for allegedly being tricked by his church’s representatives to utilise the parlours’ assets to carry out the “plot or scheme”.
“They approached Kingdom Blue for the purposes of acquiring a coffin, used stickers of Black Phoenix to brand their private car, and used such car to misrepresent it to Kings & Queens for the purposes of acquiring transport to ferry the body to the rural areas.
“It is with regret that the outcome of such a plot/scheme has adversely affected our reputation as service providers, our valued clients and the general public,” the parlours said in a statement.
The parlours have also reported the matter to Jeppe police station for further investigation, and their legal teams are busy with the process of taking further action.
Kings & Queens wrote on their Facebook page: “As a Funeral Services Provider we do not offer services without documentation, neither do we repatriate bodies without any paperwork. We are in the process of taking legal action for this malicious damage to our image.”
After viewing the video footage, which has gone viral, experts have dismissed the "miracle" as an attempt to commercialise religion.
They said a corpse needed to be embalmed and the blood squeezed out to avoid the spreading of germs during transportation out of the country, with the paperwork necessary for this taking about three or four days.
This was the view of Johan Rousseau, chairperson of the 30-year-old Funeral Industry Reformed Association (Fira), which rebuked AMI in what has been dubbed a hoax resurrection.
Rousseau, on behalf of Fira, was reacting to AMI, which gained infamy over the weekend when its leader claimed to have resurrected a Zimbabwean man from the dead.
Rousseau emphasised that it was impossible for a corpse, which was destined to leave South Africa, to return to life, as regulations stipulate that deceased bodies need to be embalmed before crossing the border.
In a public video on AMI’s social media sites, Lukau had claimed that a man, whom he referred to as Elliot, died on Friday, and was on his way to Zimbabwe on Sunday before the pastor brought him back to life.
Meanwhile, snaking queues of people from as far as the US and the Caribbean waited to buy “holy oil” and “prophetic salt”, while fervent prayers reverberated across the huge auditorium when The Star visited AMI's Sandton branch yesterday.
The Star bought the supposed holy oil and prophetic salt, including a motivational book written by Lukau’s 15-year-old son, AJ - all of which totalled a cool R420.
An American man spent more than R1200 - using dollar notes - to buy several oils, salts and books, with the woman selling the goods telling The Star that foreign currency was only accepted for bulk purchases.
The Star also spoke to a petroleum engineer from Germany, who said he was a high-income earner in the European country.
He added that many of the church’s congregants were financially well-off.
Rousseau highlighted further why he felt Lukau’s supposed resurrection was a dubious trick, alluding to the wide-open mouth of “Elliot”, and saying that most corpses in South Africa had closed mouths and eyes.
“The operational procedure from a funeral parlour perspective is that the mouth is surgically closed. This is basically a stitch on the inside of the mouth - on the upper and lower lip.
“The chin is pressed up and the chin is closed. So it is impossible that a person could be resurrected with the mouth open.
"You will never see a deceased person with mouth or eyes open,” Rousseau asserted.
The Star tried to get comment from AMI, where a man who identified himself as Nelson and said he was a church leader, refused to speak about the resurrection, and said Lukau and his personal assistant were not in Sandton.