Three days have not even passed, yet a church that claimed to have resurrected a man is now backtracking from its "miracle".
As pastor Alph Lukau's "resurrection" video continued to dominate social media conversations yesterday, with many ridiculing his claims, the Alleluia International Ministries said the "dead" man was actually "already alive" when his "body" got to the premises.
The Alleluia International Ministries church in Kramerville, Sandton, now says that Lukau had only "completed a miracle that God had already started".
The climbdown is after the church found itself in hot water with three funeral parlours that were apparently duped into taking part in the act reporting it to the police yesterday.
Advocate Prince Mafu, speaking on behalf of Kings and Queens, Black Phoenix and Kingdom Blue, said the parlours were used through various forms of misrepresentation to suit a particular outcome.
Mafu said people linked to the church approached the parlours individually, buying a coffin from one, stickers from another and hiring a hearse from another one.
"It is with regret that the outcome of such a plot has adversely affected our reputation as service providers. We have reported the matter at Jeppe police station for further investigation," Mafu said.
Lukau faced a backlash on social media for claiming "a dead man came back to LIFE in this service" on Sunday.
Amid mounting pressure, church leaders hurriedly sought to change their tune on the incident yesterday, saying the man identified as Elliot in the video had arrived alive and kicking inside a coffin at the church gate.
Church minister Busi Gaca and pastor Rochelle Kombou described how the hearse driver ran away in fear after hearing rattling noises coming from inside the coffin upon arriving at the church.
Gaca said church leaders were alerted that a hearse had just arrived at the gate when Lukau decided to go and inspect.
"As soon as they got here they started hearing movement coming from the coffin. And you know [in] our culture, if a person is dead and you start hearing movement people get scared," she said.
Gaca said the man's relatives who had been travelling in a separate car had explained that they were on their way to Zimbabwe for the man's burial when they decided to visit the church.
She said the man's family told pastors the man had been sick and coughing but was denied treatment by a local hospital.
They also claimed that he died while receiving treatment from a private doctor.
Kombou said: "By the time the man of God [Lukau] got to him he was already breathing. I was screaming. I saw his tongue moving. It was not a resurrection miracle, we are saying the testimony was completed by the one who is chosen to do what he does.
"These miracles of healing and deliverance were not an unusual sight at the church. The responsibility of the man of God is to help the testimony to come to life. The man of God completed the miracle by praying because prayer is the key."
In the video, Lukau can be seen laying his hands on the man's stomach as he lies inside the coffin. The man, who appears to be gasping for air, then rises up with a bewildered look in his eyes as Lukau continues to "speak in tongues".
"Can you see what happened? This man died since Friday, he was in the mortuary," Lukau said to loud cheers and applause. "This is a sign that no matter what the devil's done it is over. Devil, I told you wherever I find you I will kick you."
Following the prayer, the man was ushered into the church where he was given water. A woman could be seen feeding him his first meal as congregants sang in celebration.
Yesterday, Kombou said the church was not interested in responding to critics who accused them of misleading the masses as they are preoccupied with doing God's work.
According to Kings and Queens Funeral Parlour manager in Polokwane, Vivien Mponda, the hearse used to transport the man had been booked for a mechanical service in Johannesburg.
"We are also not part of the people being raised from the dead. We don't have the records including the death certificate of the alleged deceased.
"I have been struggling to get hold of the driver to explain what had happened," Mponda said.
She said her operations manager later informed her that the hearse had been hired by the church for R2,000.