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It's a miracle: Cutting Edge exposes tricks used to con churchgoers

'Cutting Edge' takes a look at what drives people to these churches, the alleged bribing that occurs to get some to act out these 'miracles' and what can be done about it.

Alleluia Ministries International church leader Alph Lukau. Picture: @AlleluiaMinistriesInternationalOfficialPage via Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - An episode of SABC 1’s investigative show Cutting Edge has again brought the topic of false prophets, suspicious miracles and everything else in between to the fore.

Hot on the heels of Shepherd Bushiri’s arrest in January and Alph Lukau’s "resurrection miracle," the show takes a look at what drives people to these churches, the alleged bribing that occurs to get some to act out these "miracles" and what can be done about it.

There are a number of practices that the episode exposes. Here are just three of the scams that are highlighted:

ELLIOT THE DEAD MAN

Cutting Edge spoke to the employer of Elliot Moyo, the man "resurrected" inside the coffin by Lukau.

His employer says that Moyo has done similar stunts with other churches before.

Show producers visited the township where Moyo lives and spoke to angry community members who dismissed the "miracle" as a farce.

One neighbour describes how they were told about Lukau's church and how they recruit actors to perform or testify about "miracles".

Another alleges that Moyo's wife recruits people. Foreign nationals are specifically chosen because they are not easily traceable.

FAKING AN HIV STATUS

Samantha Revesai (27), a foreign national, has been looking for a job for six years in Johannesburg.

She claims she was recruited by Lukau’s Alleluia Ministries International to give false testimony.

“A member of the church came to me and said, ‘you want money, right?’ and I said ‘yes, I want money because right now things are not fine with me, so I really want money’.

“Then they said ‘we want you to come next week’. For the first time, they didn’t tell me what to do.

She went to church on a Sunday, where she was brought forward to the altar where her "testimony" of being healed of HIV after three years was announced in dramatic fashion in front of the whole congregation.

Revesai says that she was given a paper with HIV positive test results and another with negative results.

"I was not positive, I was never positive. They wanted me to act as if I was positive, then pastor prayed for me and I get healed so other people get attracted to come to the church."

She says she was promised R1,500 every month.

RECRUITING ACTORS

Blessing Kwemelao (33) says he was a recruiter who trained people to stage disabilities during sermons.

"I was going to them and speaking to them clearly: 'Guys, you know what Nigerians do when they act, we are going to act. When we are acting, we want our things to be as real…'

"We were something like three to four teams which were doing the same job."

Kwemelao would get the command of how many actors were needed. Communication with the 'actors' was carried out via text messages to give instructions on what to do during services.

Watch the full episode below.

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