UPDATE: Recent reports indicated that the story of a pastor in Zimbabwe being eaten alive by three crocodiles is fake news. After fact checking, the original story derived from a satirical site, National News Bulletin, and it spread like wildfire, fooling several media outlets into publishing the story.
ORIGINAL STORY: A pastor in Zimbabwe was allegedly eaten alive by three crocodiles while demonstrating how Jesus was able to walk on water for his congregation, according to the Daily Post Nigeria. Jonathan Mthethwa, a pastor at the Saint of the Last Days Church, led his congregants to a river known in the area as the Crocodile River on Saturday in an effort to imitate Jesus walking on water.
Pastor Mthethwa was teaching the members of his church about faith, and he thought he would be able to replicate one of the miracles that Jesus supposedly “recounted in the New Testament.” According to the Bible, “Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.”
“Shortly before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Pastor Mthethwa apparently wanted to teach his congregation how to have faith and courage, which is why he found himself at the Crocodile River, “a 1,000 km long river that spans over four provinces and through Botswana and Mozambique.” When the pastor and church made it to their destination in White River, Mpumalanga, he began walking into the river while the others stayed behind. When he reached “30 meters” into the water, he made an attempt to ascend so that he could show his congregation how Jesus was able to walk on water, but calamity struck.
Three crocodiles emerged from the water and began eating the Zimbabwe pastor alive while his congregation stood on the shore, watching in horror, according to witnesses.
— Mashable (@mashable) May 15, 2017
Deacon Nkosi was among those who watched on as Pastor Mthethwa was allegedly eaten alive by crocodiles while trying to walk on water like Jesus. He said, “The pastor taught us about faith on Sunday last week. He promised he would demonstrate his faith to us today, but he, unfortunately, ended up drowning and getting eaten by three large crocodiles in front of us.”
“We still don’t understand how this happened because he fasted and prayed the whole week. They finished him in a couple of minutes. All that was left of him when they finished eating him is a pair of sandals and his underwear floating above the water.”
Emergency medical services arrived 30 minutes after the pastor was supposedly eaten alive by three crocodiles; however, there was nothing they could do to save him. Pastor Mthethwa was pronounced dead at the scene although his body was never recovered.
The Zimbabwe pastor’s horrific death sent social media users into an uproar. Many were appalled at the fact that he would attempt to reproduce the “Biblical story of Jesus Christ walking on water,” calling it “nonsense” and “ignorant.”
— Daily Post Nigeria (@DailyPostNGR) May 13, 2017
The pastor’s death comes a month after an 11-year-old boy was eaten by crocodiles in a river after heavy rain. Local residents located the crocodile, killed it and cut open the body to retrieve the boy’s remains.
A police spokesperson said: “This year we had too many rains, and it is obvious crocodiles are certainly there in our rivers. Villagers should not risk their lives by swimming or trying to cross the flooded rivers.”
It was not immediately made clear if local divers will search the Crocodile River for the pastor’s remains. At this time, Pastor Mthethwa’s age and a photo have not been released to the public.