Nigeria collapse: One family’s story

A family has described to EWN the direct impact of the Lagos collapse on four children, who are now orphans.

Spokesman of the National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) southwest region, Ibrahim Farinloye, speaks about the casuality figure at the scene of the collapsed church guesthouse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in the Ikotun neighborhood in Lagos on 17 September, 2014.

JOHANNESBURG - It's been exactly one week since the fatal Nigerian building collapse and while South Africans are still desperately seeking answers, one family has described the direct impact of the tragedy on the lives of four young orphans.

The six-storey Synagogue Church of All Nations building in Lagos collapsed last Friday, killing 84 South Africans.

It's believed that unauthorised attempts to add more floors to the building led to its sudden collapse.

Some of the survivors have already returned home while others have been notified of the deaths of their family members.

Gabriel Ramano said his family has been devastated by the death of his cousin and his wife, who were in their early 30s and believers in "Prophet" TB Joshua's message.

"I am so devastated but people should not just go and worship a human being."

The Lagos Pentacostal church attracts a global following of Christians who believe Joshua is able to perform miracles, including curing the ill and raising the dead.

The regular influx of visitors from abroad for the church's services, which can last up to a week, creates demand for accommodation that the church's own guest house has been unable to meet, and often spills over into local hotels.

Ramano said the couple has left behind four children between the ages of six and 14.

The family used to live in Nelspruit but now that the children have been orphaned, Ramano says all four children will be forced to move back to rural Venda in Limpopo.

"They only have their grandmother who is left now and she is busy arranging everything."

Although he described the collapse as a tragedy, Ramano said he has not yet dismissed terrorism as the possible cause.

Meanwhile, attempts are underway at the Synagogue Church of All Nations to identify the bodies of casualties from countries other than South Africa.

Nigerian officials believe Joshua's vast reach could mean that people from other parts of the globe have been affected.

Zimbabwe earlier reported its first casualty in last Friday's church collapse.

The victim was an official in opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) political party.

MDC spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora identified the man as Greenwich Ndanga, a provincial chairman for the party in the Mashonaland West province.

Ndanga was also a pastor in his own church in Zimbabwe.