South Africa's 'Doom Pastor' found guilty of assault
A South African self-styled prophet who sprayed his followers with the insecticide, Doom, has been found guilty of assault, local media report.
Lethebo Rabalago - widely known as the Doom Pastor - was also found guilty of contravening the Agricultural Stock Remedies Act, a court ruling said.
Rabalago claims the insect repellent he used in 2016 could heal cancer and HIV.
A sentence is yet to be handed down after the verdict by Mookgopong Magistrates Court in Limpopo province.
On Friday, magistrate Frans Mahodi told the court the state had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that the five people who laid assault charges were violated, South Africa's national broadcaster SABC reports.
The magistrate said the fact that the complainants "were sprayed on their faces with Doom makes this offence [the] worst of its kind".
He also revealed some of them had suffered "detrimental side effects... like coughing for more than seven months" after the incident.
Rabalago - who run the Mount Zion General Assembly - was arrested after it emerged he had used the product to "cure" his followers of various ailments in 2016.
In photos circulating on social media, he was seen spraying the insecticide directly into the eyes and various body parts of his congregants.
At the time, he told the BBC's Nomsa Maseko in Johannesburg he had sprayed the face of one woman because she had an eye infection and claimed the woman was "just fine because she believed in the power of God".
Rabalago's case had been delayed on a number of occasions, most recently when his lawyer forgot his glasses.
South Africa has seen a wave of incidents where church members have been subjected to unorthodox rituals which purportedly healed them of various ailments.
The dangers of worshipping some South African preachers:
Lethebo Rabalago, Mount Zion General Assembly
- Posted a photo on Facebook which showed what looked like a large speaker on top of a person lying face-up on the ground
- In another photo, he is seen sitting on the speaker while a person remains underneath
- In 2016, he is photographed spraying insecticide into the faces of his followers, saying it will heal them
Lesego Daniel, Rabboni Ministries
- The self-styled prophet in Pretoria instructed members of his congregation to drink petrol
- In 2014, Facebook images on the church's website also showed his followers eating grass and flowers on his orders
Penuel Mnguni, End Times Disciples Ministries
- Dubbed "snake pastor" by local media
- The 25-year-old "man of God" reportedly started his church 2014 after training under Lesego Daniel.
- In 2015, Facebook images showed the self-proclaimed prophet feeding his members stones which he claimed to have turned into bread
- That same year, other images emerged of him feeding his followers snakes and rats, which they claimed had been turned into chocolate
- He has since been chased out of the Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, where his church was located