Two South Africans who lost relatives when a church hostel in Lagos collapsed have told the BBC they intend to sue Nigerian evangelist TB Joshua.
The two men, who both lost sisters in the collapse, are appealing for more families to come together in bringing a case against the preacher.
At least 115 people, including 84 South Africans, died when the multi-storey building fell down earlier this month.
The authorities say it had more floors than its foundation could hold.
On Sunday, Mr Joshua, who is one of Nigeria’s best-known evangelists and is popular across Africa, announced plans to travel to South Africa to visit the families of the deceased.
Emergency workers allege they were prevented from participating in the rescue, only gaining full access to the site on Sunday afternoon – accusations denied by Pastor Joshua’s Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN).
Thanduxolo Doro and Mpho Molebatsi waited at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo airport for days after the collapse for news of their sisters, who had been visiting SCOAN.
Both families had last heard from their relatives hours before the collapse, which happened at about 13:50 local time (12.50 GMT) on Friday 12 September.
“It is not that the building collapsed, rather what was done after the collapse – we didn’t get any news from the church,” Mr Doro, whose sister Vathiswa Madikiza died, told the BBC.
“When I contacted them they wouldn’t tell me anything. We saw reports that emergency workers were denied access initially, access that could have saved lives. The actions of the church after the incident are very telling,” he said.
- Founded Synagogue, Church of All Nations in the 1990s
- Runs Christian television station Emmanuel TV
- The ministry professes to heal all manner of illnesses
- Controversially this includes HIV/Aids
- Known as the “Prophet” by his followers
- Tours Africa, the US, the UK and South America
In an open letter published in South Africa’s Star newspaper, Mr Doro called on more families to sue Mr Joshua.
“I need to do this for her. Even if I stand alone, I am determined to see that something is done,” he told the BBC.
“I understand that some families are afraid to take on someone who purports to be God’s messenger and I don’t blame them but I will do this.”
Mr Doro says he was informed by South African officials about his sister’s death this week, but has to wait for the results of DNA tests before her body can be repatriated for burial.
He told the BBC that he had spoken to two families who were eager to join him in suing Mr Joshua, but no concrete plans had been made.
He has not been in contact with Mr Molebatsi, whose sister Hlubi Molebatsi was also killed.
Mr Molebatsi says he has contacted his lawyers.
“I have spoken to other families but it has been difficult because this is a time of mourning. I would like to see families get something from the church as some of the people who died were breadwinners,” he told the BBC.
Some 25 survivors of the collapse are continuing to receive medical care following their return to South Africa.
Officials say 16 of the wounded are in critical condition, with some having had limbs amputated and other complications.