This is one of the more eyebrow raising, as well as tragic, stories that popped up towards the end of last year. Basically there was a South African pastor, Lethebo Rabalago, who sprayed his congregation with insecticide that he believed healed people (1). He also uploaded pictures to Facebook championing his effort (2). Personally I’d think it’s safe to say that Doom is quite poisonous and I cannot see it having many positive health benefits on human beings. It’s technically used to kill off all sorts of bugs from mosquitoes to cockroaches.
The pastor, Rabalago, preaches in Limpopo province which, alongside the Eastern Cape, is South Africa’s poorest and most underdeveloped province. South Africa’s Western Cape, the wealthiest of the provinces, is worlds apart from what those living in Limpopo experience (and that obviously goes beyond pastors spraying Doom in the faces of congregants). Pastor Rabalago also believes that the spray can heal cancer and HIV. Even worse Rabalago said that God had told him to use Doom and that he had healed, and would still heal, countless people using it. This is surely insanity for God may as well have just instructed Rabalago to make people eat rat poison. If Doom then why not something else equally as hazardous? In fact, why would God not just tell Rabalago to go get a specific medicine instead? Rabalago makes God look both incredibly stupid and vindictive. The truth I think is that God didn’t even give Rabalago this instruction in the first place.
Tiger Brands, the company that makes the product, says it finds the practice “alarming” and has warned the pastor to stop, “Doom has been formulated to kill specific insects, which are detailed on the cans, and the packaging has very clear warnings which must be adhered to” (3). The South African government has set up a commission to investigate motives behind these practices and the county’s Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities have also condemned the practice, which it says is “detrimental” to the well-being of people.
An observer of this odd practice would probably condemn the congregants as being stupid to allow somebody to do this to them, as well as that they actually believe it really works. But this, I’d contend, has all the signs of desperation. Impoverished and poor South Africans, and especially the ones suffering from illnesses and diseases in provinces like Limpopo where access to medical clinics and facilities is limited, feel that they’ve been failed by the government and thus, with nowhere else to turn, go to places where these practices are accepted. That is where the tragedy lies in this story.
I don’t think pastor Rabalago is fit to be a leader of a church nor any group of people for that matter. Even worse is what next could he be claiming God instructs him to do that could actually end up severely harming if not killing people? I have no doubt that God communicates with his people but we shouldn’t have individuals like this, individuals who lack much needed discernment required in leadership, taking leadership over God’s people or anyone else.
1. BBC. 2016. South Africa’s ‘Prophet of Doom’ condemned. Available.
2. Vilakazi, T. 2016. South African pastor sprays insecticide on congregants ‘to heal them.’ Available.
3. Mkhonza, T. 2016. Tiger Brands slams ‘prophet of Doom.’ Available.