A teenage boy hailed as a prophet by his devoted followers warned congregants at a riverside baptism that someone was about to die in the water just moments before he fell in himself and drowned.
The boy identified as Gift Dube, 19, was taking part in the baptism ceremony on the banks of a stream that runs into the Khami Dam reservoir in Zimbabwe.
His mother Thobekile Dube told local media that her son had been leading prayers for the congregation of the 12 Apostolic Faith Mission Church and had asked everybody to make a private prayer to tell God what was in their hearts.
She said: “He also warned that the waters had dark spirits hence they should pray because someone could remain (die) in the water.”
Shortly after that, a member of the congregation slipped into the water and the teenager, who was a pupil at the Amhlophe High School in Bulawayo, had rushed over to try and save them.
But in doing so, he had toppled into the water himself and was drowned.
The mother, whose age was not given, said: “The boy whom my son tried to rescue was saved by another congregant who threw a stick towards him and ordered him to grab it while she pulled.”
She added: “I saw my son drowning in the water with his arms stretched open. That’s how he drowned.”
However the police chief in the Zimbabwean city of Bulawayo which is investigating the death, Chief Inspector Precious Simango, offered a slightly different version of events describing how the boy drowned during a church service.
She said: “He was a prophet and was in the company of church members intending to conduct a baptism ceremony. He was the first to get into the water intending to anoint it and while in the water he lost control and drowned instantly.
“We are saddened about such carelessness and we urge religious leaders to ensure they do not endanger the lives of people in water sources. Now that the rainy season has started, members of the public should desist from attempting to get into water sources for whatever reason as they risk drowning especially if not monitored by professionals.”
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