Two days after self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri was released on R100,000 bail, 33-year-old Tebogo Mogashoa made her usual trek from Krugersdorp to Pretoria to hear him preach.
In her wallet was her monthly tithe of R1,000 and an extra R100 for the collection basket.
At the end of the sermon, full of the spirit but with an empty wallet, she stood outside with her eight-year-old son, counting on the charity of fellow believers to get a lift back home.
A visit by the Sunday Times to Bushiri’s service last week at the Tshwane Events Centre – just after he was released on bail – revealed that during his services, which usually last about seven hours, at least 40 Speedpoint machines pass through the main hall where Bushiri, 35, preaches, and through two adjoining halls.
Ushers also pass 40l baskets between the rows for cash pledges.
The man who calls himself Major One invites people to come forward to place their special cash pledges at the cross-shaped altar – to guarantee a special prayer intercession on the giver’s behalf.
“I call everyone with a special prayer request to come forward with your seed,” Bushiri says.
Outside, his army of vendors are doing a roaring trade.
Photos of Major One sell for between R70 and R100, or congregants can buy a package deal – a church calendar with photos of Bushiri for R100.
The armbands, at R70 each, have a dual purpose, says a congregant who only introduces himself as Zikron: it helps them to identify fellow worshippers and protect them from evil spirits.
To aid the workings of the wristband, bottles of anointed water and anointed oil are sold for R100 and R150 respectively.
Don’t forget those pens for R20 to take notes during the sermon, or a T-shirt for between R150 and R200.