A lawyer representing Alleluia Ministries has denied allegations that the "resurrected" Brighton Moyo has been paid before to participate in "miracles".
He was responding to several colleagues and friends of Moyo's who said that he had told them it was not first time he had played a starring role in showcasing miracles.
Initially dubbed "Elliot", the man who was apparently resurrected by controversial Sandton pastor Alph Lukau of Alleluia Ministries a week ago had on a previous occasion been “healed” from being confined to a wheelchair, a colleague of his told TimesLIVE.
"He arrived in a wheelchair and was hit by a stick to prove that he can’t feel anything on his legs. He sat still while receiving the beating and, after a prayer, he stood from the wheelchair and it appeared as if he had been healed,” said the colleague, who said he was told this by Moyo.
Fearing retribution from the church, the colleague asked that his name be withheld.
He said: "Brighton told us that he did this for extra money to be able to support his two children and wife. For the wheelchair act, he did mention he was paid R1,500."
Another colleague and friend said Moyo had contacted him to let him know he was okay, and that the pastor was keeping him at a secret location to keep him away from the limelight and media.
"If you want to know anything, just call the pastor [Lukau]. He knows where he is keeping Brighton," he said on Friday afternoon at his workplace in Pretoria, where he and Moyo were employed by a customised door manufacturing company.
He said that since the call, Moyo's phone had been off and no one knew his whereabouts.
But the church’s legal representative, Sean Sim, denied allegations that Lukau had performed fake miracles on Moyo, and that he was hiding the allegedly resurrected man.
He said Lukau had no knowledge of Moyo’s whereabouts.
"We are further instructed to record in this regard that prior to the service held on February 24 2019, neither Pastor Lukau nor AMI Ministries had ever met Mr Moyo, nor had they had any interactions of whatsoever nature with Moyo.
"So, again, we record that these allegations are in fact malicious, blatantly false and untrue. For the avoidance of any doubt, our clients strongly object to and deny as being false and malicious any statement that is made that seeks to implicate our clients in being involved in staging miracles,” Sim told TimesLIVE.
Earlier in the week, the church released a statement disputing claims that Lukau had resurrected Moyo. Sim said Moyo had been introduced to Lukau as "Elliot".
"At no stage did Pastor Alph claim that he resurrected the person shown in the video, who was identified to him as Elliot. From the video footage, it is clearly stated that when the mortuary vehicle arrived at the church premises, there was already movement in the coffin.
"Prior to even praying for Elliot, Pastor Alph states that Elliot is in fact breathing," reads the church statement.
Moyo's employer, Vincent Amoretti, said three of his employees – who he said Moyo had also tried to recruit for the church – were in hiding as they feared for their lives.
"I have also been receiving strange calls, and my employees have warned me that I need to be careful with what I say because those people are dangerous,” Amorreti said.
He said he was willing to welcome Moyo back at work should he decide to return.
"He didn’t do anything wrong. I’ve invested a lot of money and time in training him. I believe we all deserve a second chance," he said.
Amoretti said he believed Moyo was just used by the pastor who had taken advantage of him.
The company has now created a Facebook page, seeking assistance from people to help find Moyo.
His colleague, Innocent Mavesa, said he was shocked when he saw the now-viral video.
"I have never seen such a thing in my life and it’s a taboo to actually be in a casket while you're alive," he said.
Mavesa described Moyo as a decent, humble and God-fearing young man who always encouraged and motivated them to be their best.
"We are both Christians, but he knew how I felt about these miracle churches … so he never tried to recruit me to his church," Mavesa told TimesLIVE.
Police spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo confirmed that they were investigating three cases of fraud opened in connection with the "resurrection" incident, but that no arrests had been made.
"The one case was opened by a funeral parlour based here in Gauteng, another case was opened by people who said they were concerned citizens, and a third one was opened by Pastor Mboro [Paseka Motsoeneng]," Masondo said.