Nigeria collapse: Gift of the Givers threatened with arrest

There's been little communication between the church and the families of the building collapse.

Rescue workers clear away mattresses used by occupants of the collapsed guesthouse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) at Ikotun in Lagos on 17 September, 2014. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - The Gift of the Givers says its attempts to track down South Africans in Lagos have been thwarted by threats of arrests by hospital staff where the citizens are being treated and the apparent refusal to allow the survivors to call home.

President Jacob Zuma initially announced that 67 South Africans were crushed to death when a residential building owned by TB Joshua's popular church collapsed a week ago.

The relief group's staff in Nigeria have been putting South African families in touch with their loved ones who survived the tragedy.

There's been little communication between the Synagogue Church of All Nations and the families of the building collapse victims since last week.

Some of the people have returned home, but more 17 citizens are still missing.

Gift of the Givers founder Imtiaz Sooliman explains.

"They couldn't confront him or get information from him and they were asked to leave. When the guys told them they were there to inquire about the South African they were told the matter is about terrorism and asking more questions could lead to arrests."

Yesterday, the group described how a they were chased out of a hospital, barred from speaking to a patient and even questioned about terrorism.

Sooliman, said he knows of other families who have also been sent away from hospitals by Nigerian officials without any answers.

Earlier, the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, told Eyewitness News that the death toll from the collapse in Lagos has risen to 84.

Late last night, government said 17 South Africans are either dead or missing following the collapse.