Prodigal pastor returns

Chester Makana

A Limpopo pastor has returned home after disappearing with money belonging to a stokvel- and remaining in hiding for three months.

The stokvel money, estimated at R24000, was to be shared among four members.

Their dreams were shattered a day before the money was to be withdrawn from the bank.

The pastor told Sowetan that an evil spirit haunted him for nearly three months and that he stayed in the bush without eating until he was found at Bungeni near Elim in Limpopo on Friday.

Pastor Moses Hlungwani, 31, of the Faith Revival Church at Siyandhani village outside Giyani, allegedly went missing after he had gone to withdraw members' monthly contributions saved from January to November last year.

It was practice for members to send Hlungwani to deposit the monthly savings in the bank.

He was so trusted that deposit slips were hardly checked when he returned from the bank.

"We have been saving money for the past five years, and interest accrued was shared equally without any hitches whatsoever," said a club member who wished to remain anonymous.

"Last year towards the end of November, pastor Hlungwani was told to go and withdraw all contributions for the year.

"Each member had contributed R500 every month and we were four."

She said the members told Hlungwani to withdraw the savings just as he had done in the past.

He agreed, promising to bring the cash the next day.

But the next day Hlungwani did not bring the cash and never pitched at work, she said.

"Hlungwani had never missed a day since he started working with us at the confectionery outlet eight years ago."

Hlungwani's wife told Sowetan that she had checked both her husband's bank account and that of the club.

She discovered that nothing had been deposited into the club's account for the whole year. A withdrawal of R1000 was made from her husband's account on the day he disappeared.

Mopani police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed Hlungwani's disappearance.

He said the police had recorded Hlungwani as a missing person and that no case of fraud or theft had been opened by the club.