Priest fails to raise dead man

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

The family of a man who died in 2007 are demanding R45000 from a local priest who had promised to bring their loved one back to life if they exhumed the remains from the grave.

The drama started at Mbongolwane cemetery in Eshowe on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast yesterday.

This after the priest, whose name cannot be published until he appears in court, failed to "raise" a 52-year-old man from the dead.

Relatives and hundreds of friends of Jabulani Xulu became furious and threatened to attack the priest.

The crowd had gathered at the cemetery before sunrise and after waiting in vain for several hours they wanted revenge. Police whisked the pastor away to safety in a police van.

Relatives said they and throngs of onlookers watched as Xulu's remains were exhumed, and then placed on a table for the pastor to "raise him".

Xulu's cousin, Timothy Shandu, said the priest visited him at his work place last year and told him that he could resurrect his cousin.

"The priest and my cousin were very close while he was still alive. He told me that God had told him raise my cousin from the dead because he had died prematurely.

"As shocked as I was, I asked him to put it in writing and he did," said Shandu.

He said the priest did not want to charge him for this service.

"We had agreed that he would do it free. But we said if he did not do it he would have to pay us R45000. We now want our money."

He said the priest wrote two letters, one to the local chief and the other to the local police, asking for permission to exhume the body.

"Our chief called him to a public meeting and he confirmed having written a letter to the effect that he had been instructed by God to resurrect my cousin.

"He was granted permission by the chief and we went to the grave site to exhume the body. Yesterday he prayed for hours over the remains but my cousin didn't rise from the dead. This angered the community," said Shandu.

Shandu said the priest was lucky that police saved him from a "good beating".

"I regret to have ever listened and believed him."

Eshowe police spokesman Inspector Mbongeni Mdlalose confirmed the exhumation, which was attended by more than 500 people.

He said that while the courts had not granted permission for the exhumation, police could do little because the priest had been allowed by the family and the local chief to exhume Xulu's remains.