After 15 die in South African river baptism, blame is shifted to climate change

Stock baptism image via Pexels.

IN a piece that appears to partially deflect blame for the tragedy that occurred last month, Christianity Daily yesterday carried a report that suggested that South Africans as a whole have not come to terms with climate change.

The Christian news outlet quoted Retief Müller, a South African theologian and a church historian, as saying that people are quick to blame marginal groups as a way of “avoiding complexity and complicity.”

He said:

This is not to defend the pastor, but it is important to be aware of the wider context. Given what we know of the history of xenophobia and anti-foreigner sentiment in various parts of South Africa, including in the Johannesburg area, negative feelings against this church leader might have existed even before the tragedy.

The pastor, identified as “prophet” Kind Kupe from neighboring Zimbabwe, was among those rescued after after he led his flock into the Jukskei River in early December.

According to News24, he did a runner after local residents blamed him for the tragedy, which claimed the lives of 15, including a baby aged just three months.

He is now back in Zimbabwe with his wife.

His landlady said in this Opera News report:

That man is so kind, like his name. What happened was truly a tragedy. He is not to blame. It was a natural disaster, but I don’t think that is how many people see it.

She sure got that right.

People had urged Kupe to stop his baptisms

Linda Twala, a resident of Alexandra, said many people had urged the pastor to stop his river baptisms but that plea fell on deaf ears.

Many have called for this pastor to stop what he is doing, but he still continues putting other people’s lives at risk. The entire township has been affected by this.

Twala questioned the rituals performed by the pastor.

I know that baptism is something that has been happening for a very long time, but for someone to be baptised at a river with that heavy flow of water is dangerous.

She added:

People are now angry because lives have been lost. Many want to see this pastor to know what exactly happened.

Tefo Raphadu, a ward councillor in Alexandra, echoed Twala’s sentiments. He said:

All of us are concerned. We want to get to the bottom of what happened, and the pastor is the one who can give us those details. There have been posters saying ‘Ukuphi, ukuphi? (Where is he?)’. People are looking for him. He needs to be found so that he can fill in the missing pieces around this story.

Raphadu said it would be difficult to tell if the pastor was genuine or not, but fleeing counted against him.

His actions now don’t go well with him. If he was honest and this was a genuine accident, he should have been here to fill in the missing gaps around this story and be there to comfort the families.

According to Baptist News, Nomusa Bandile lost a teenage daughter in the tragedy. She said:

Our so-called pastor is now on the run, what a cruel fraudster.

There is a growing toll of worshippers losing their lives during flash floods that are now making open-river baptisms deadly in South Africa.

In December 2021, floods swept away a 21-year-old priest and a 41-year-old woman whom he was baptizing in the Free State, in central South Africa.

On the last day of 2022, three more people drowned during a river baptism ceremony gone wrong in Soweto, the most populous Black township in South Africa.

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11 responses to “After 15 die in South African river baptism, blame is shifted to climate change”

  1. They’re with their beloved Jebus now so what are they moaning about?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. My thoughts exactly.

      “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” (I Thess. 4:13)

      I remember Christians trying desperately to make this say that they weren’t to grieve “as (much as) others which have no hope”, but it doesn’t say that at all, as other translations make clear. They are NOT TO GRIEVE over those who die!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It should be easy to locate the kind prophet, use to track his Gulfstream V executive jet.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I suppose God was distracted at the time of the deaths or he might have offered protection. Odd, isn’t it, that even the most sacred events provide no more protection that the secular?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Broga, never more so than at the annual Hajj; on one occasion, inadequate and/or insufficient praise of God and Mo and stones not thrown hard enough at the devil, so upset the almighty that she allowed 1,500 to die in the rush to please her.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Seems to me that the almighty is not easily pleased. Perhaps the 15 who died at the baptism had upset her. Although as one was a baby he/she scarcely had much opportunity to step out of line.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Broga: Original sin!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Original sin! Of course, that explains it. I should have realised that. Although I don’t know what original sin is.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Broga: That was when Adam ate the forbidden fruit. Even babies are responsible for that!

        Liked by 2 people

      5. barriejohn: I didn’t know that and I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at the idiocy of it. Amazing that there are any Christians who could believe such nonsense.

        I’m reminded, as another example of Christian ability to believe nonsense, of the fear RC mothers had that their dying baby would not have the ministrations of a priest before death. The parents would then be subjected to extremely tedious prayers to lessen the babies time in limbo before he/she went to heaven.

        Then the Pope decided that the baby was not required to spend time in this mid way state. Some mothers were upset because the limbo state had been removed by the Pope and they are spent so much time in pointless praying.

        You couldn’t make it up. But seemingly someone did.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. The not-so-mighty’s wrath has no minimum age, sending bears to kill the kids who taunted the bald Elijah was just a minor episode when compared to genocide, – surely the zenith of her maliciousness.

    Liked by 3 people

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