Ms. Nokulunga Fiphaza leads cult of Christianity
in South Africa. Though Ms. Fiphaza told one newspaper that "her church had no name as the church belonged to God"
, some publications refer to the group as Silinde u-Yesu
(Waiting for Christ) or Awaiting Christ.
In the year 2000 the group was in the news as it twice prepared itself for what it believed to be the imminemt return of Jesus Christ
. Currently (2003) it is in the news for the discovery of previously unreported graves
on its church grounds.
The police in the Eastern Cape province are keeping an eye on the activities of the leader of a fanatical group, Nokulunga Fiphaza, an unemployed 30 year old woman, who according to some people once worked and lived in Johannesburg (South Africa financial capital). She has warned her followers in Umtata in the Eastern Cape the world will end soon.
In response to the warning, cult members-more than 100 have stopped working and have forbidden their children from going to school-on the grounds that Jesus's Second Coming and Judgement Day are imminent. The church has its origin in a village called Corhana, several kilometers from Umtata. They have since relocated to Umtata since the chief of Corhana chased them away because of their beliefs.
During Easter last month, 100 members of the church barricaded themselves inside their corrugated iron church waiting for the return of Jesus Christ. Church members sold their assets, including furniture and livestock, before moving to Umtata, where they were received by the community of Mandela squatter camp. The church members were requested to donate money so they could be cleansed of diseases and sin before reaching their final destination.
According to Fiphaza, theirs is a church of God that belongs to no single individual and has no need to be given a name. "Every individual is free to join the church as long as she or he will abide by the church's decisions, " Fiphaza was reported as saying.
The leader of the sect, Nokulunga Fiphaza, said her church had no name as the church belonged to God.
For the second time this year
, the world did not end as they had hoped. But the 70 members of the Church of God, an Umtata-based cult, remain undeterred and continue to prepare for imminent rapture
and the return of Jesus Christ
, an event that they predicted would happen on the last day of the 1900s, and then on July 31.
The cult was established
and is still led by Nokulunga Fiphaza, a middle-aged, overbearing woman, who worked as a nurse at a clinic in Port Elizabeth and was a lay preacher at the Motherwell branch of the Apostolic Faith Church before her ''ordainment''.
She believes herself to be a God-ordained prophet named Noah and Abraham. To start the cult, she claims to have engaged in three fasting spells lasting for 40, then 30 and finally 20 days.
She commands fearful loyalty from her followers, some of whom have donated their worldly belongings to her cause. Her earlier attempts to establish similar groups were met with rejection by communities in places like Queenstown and Empindweni, which the current group left for its base at Mandela Park.
A mysterious religious cult is said to be behind the discovery of eight shallow graves at Mandela Park informal settlement here last week.
In the Umtata magistrate's court yesterday, 12 men facing charges of concealment of deaths were granted R300 bail each.
No formal charges have yet been laid against them.
The grave site falls within the compound of a religious sect which forbids its members to work or attend school.
Cult members reportedly spend all their time worshipping, claiming that they are awaiting the return of Jesus Christ.
It is thought the worshippers, including young children, might have fasted for a number of days as part of the ritual.
Superintendent Nondumiso Jafta said the exhumation followed allegations by the mother of a woman staying at the compound that her daughter had died and been buried without her being notified of the child's death.
Twelve church elders were arrested on Thursday and charged with concealing the deaths and defeating the ends of justice. They have since been granted bail of R300 each and are due back in the Umtata magistrate's court on Friday.
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