Johannesburg -Todani Tshikota drove over 500km from Venda to Pretoria this week to join throngs of Enlightened Christian Gathering supporters outside the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Court.
“Major One is my father,” she said, referring to the controversial leader of the church, Shepherd Bushiri.
“You won’t understand what the man of God has sacrificed for us. There are times he fasted 90 days without eating anything. Praying for us. Driving from Limpopo is nothing to me.”
As she spoke at the Pretoria Church Square, her fellow congregants constantly shouted “fire, fire, fire”, jumping up and down.
Some prayed in different languages while another group walked around the square with a giant poster of Bushiri. Others posed for pictures next to the image, with some kneeling and praying at the picture.
Bushiri and his wife Mary were scheduled to appear in court on charges of money laundering and contravening the Prevention of Organised Crime Act dating back to 2015. They were subsequently released on R100 000 bail each.
Tshikota spoke of how Bushiri had saved her siblings from a life of alcoholism and drugs by “simply laying hands on them” and “casting out the demons that possessed them for years”. At the time, her late father was a pastor at Lutheran Church. “Nothing worked until we met Major One.
“He delivered them. Major One is like prophet Elijah in the bible. He will prophesy something now and it would immediately comes to pass. Come rain, come sun, I love Major One.”
The entire family has now left the church of their father to join Bushiri’s church.
She said God would confuse those who are using state resources to persecute “the prophet of God”.
“People fabricated lies about my father. God will confuse them. They will fight among themselves in the end.”
Tshikota claimed that the sun changed its colours as they were praying during the court case. “There was a rainbow around the sun as we were praying. This confirms that Major One is sent by God himself.”
Another church member, Toni Maleka, took a day off from work to show her support. She praised Bushiri for his ability to heal the sick and said there was no disease the prophet could not heal, including HIV/Aids.
Maleka said the church was growing at a rapid rate because people believed in the “doctrine” of the church and the message of hope preached by Bushiri.
She dismissed claims the church was exploiting congregants to sustain Bushiri’s luxurious lifestyle. “Major One is about the truth. People give willingly to the church. I have been in that church for some time now. People peddle lies.”
Yesterday Bushiri, on his TV channel, thanked congregants for showing support. He particularly extended his gratitude to the leader of Black First Land First, Andile Mngxitama, who demanded that the government should apologise for his arrest.
Earlier this week popular gospel musician Swazi Dlamini encouraged church members to boycott voting if the prophet was not released.