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Fact-check: Did South African Church pastor make congregants drink Dettol to ‘cure coronavirus’

While it cannot be independently verified whether pastor Phala indeed try to 'cure coronavirus' through Dettol, he did made the congregants drink disinfectants in the past.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

According to a report published in Kenya Today, a South African pastor Rufus Phala of AK Spiritual Christian Church in Makgodu, Limpopomade his loyal followers to allegedly drink a household disinfectant- Dettol, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus while discharging his duty during a church service. The article said that about 59 people were reported dead while 4 remained in critical condition following the consumption of Dettol.

Though the pastor had a persuasive history of administering his followers with disinfectants such as Jik and Dettol in the past, it cannot be independently verified if the pastor had recently made his congregants consume Dettol to fight the coronavirus. The report of 59 deaths in South Africa because of the consumption of Dettol has not been reported by more credible news outlets. It was published by the Kenyan Report but shortly afterwards taken down. In addition, the feature image of the report published in Kenya Today is old, further raising doubts over the authenticity of the claims made in the report.

Quoting the police investigating the incident, the Kenya Today report said that the pastor persuaded the followers to believe that they could ward off the threat of the novel coronavirus by the disinfectant that had to be administered orally. For those who had already contracted the deadly contagion, the pastor coaxed them into believing that the decontaminant has healing properties that could cure them of the novel covid-19.

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While it cannot be independently verified whether pastor Phala indeed try to ‘cure coronavirus’ through Dettol, he did made the congregants drink disinfectants in the past. In 2018, Phala made his followers drink another detergent- Jik, claiming it was Jesus’ blood. The deluded pastor reportedly asserted that he had mysterious power of turning Jik into Jesus’ blood after pronouncing a powerful declaration. Phala attempted to legitimise his methods by citing a story in the Bible where Jesus gives his congregants wine to drink, telling them that it is his blood.

In 2016, pastor Phala had made his followers drink liquid Dettol, claiming them it had secret healing qualities and it will cure them of their ailments. The prophet had then admitted that he knew Dettol was harmful for human consumption but contended that he was struck by an epiphany to advise its oral consumption. He also claimed that he consumed the antiseptic liquid first before giving it to his followers and that many of his ill loyalists called him up to inform him that they had indeed healed after gulping down the disinfectant.

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