JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza on Sunday criticised a local pastor and Nigerian pastor TB Joshua, while warning of "harmful religious practices".
Mayathula-Khoza, speaking at the Father Masango St John Apostolic Faith Mission Church in Soshanguve, west of Pretoria, prayed for the South Africans who died in a building collapse in Nigeria on September 12.
"We ask the Creator to assist us to deal with the loss. We send our heartfelt condolences to their loved ones," she said.
"But I don't understand why the likes of TB Joshua should claim the sole ability to heal and prophesise ability to perform miracles."
Around 115 people, among them 84 South Africans, were killed and dozens trapped when a multi-storey guesthouse attached to the Synagogue Church of All Nations, run by Joshua, collapsed in Lagos.
Some 350 South Africans were thought to be visiting the church when the accident happened.
Last week, French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that rescue workers said the building collapse was likely due to the addition of extra floors to the three-storey building without reinforcing its foundations.
But Joshua, a charismatic pastor known to his followers as "The Prophet" or "The Man of God" and who claims to work miracles, suggested it was a deliberate sabotage against his ministry.
Building collapses are frequent in Nigeria because of lax regulations and substandard construction materials, AFP reported.
Mayathula-Khoza, speaking on behalf of the Gauteng Premier David Makhura, criticised a Pretoria-based pastor who reportedly made his congregation eat grass and drink petrol.
"If you go about feeding people grass and petrol, you must know that you are not a good shepherd. You are misleading the folk," she said.
"Some amongst us seem to think that we can't tell the healing power of faith and the medicinal value of faith from harmful religious practices."
On September 24, it was reported that Rabboni Centre Ministries pastor Lesego Daniel told his Ga-Rankuwa congregation to drink petrol and said it tasted "sweet".
In a video posted to YouTube, members of his congregation are seen drinking the petrol as Daniel preached.
Mayathula-Khoza said humans cannot digest grass because it required special enzymes, such as in herbivores, which humans do not have.
She said petrol should not be ingested and posed a danger for the breathing system and could result in breathing difficulty and aspiration pneumonia.
"Ingestion of fuel is corrosive and not only does it affect the intestinal territory, but also the nervous system," she said.
"It causes excitement [a high], as though someone who took on drugs. That would explain the strange behaviour reactions after ingestion in the people who drink petrol."
The MEC said petrol also posed a danger for the breathing system, resulting in difficulty breathing, aspiration pneumonia, among other symptoms.