A Zion Christian Church (ZCC) ritual seemingly intended to cure a man of epilepsy has instead left him with horrific, third-degree burns to the face.
30-year-old Gaositwe Maule’s face was literally cooked when he fell into a tub full of boiling water during a bizarre church ceremony apparently designed to exorcise his condition.
It appears Gaositwe, who is from Nswazwi village and was diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of seven, suffered a fit during the June 6th procedure, leading him to his painful and grisly fate.
Disfigured and depressed, Gaositwe is currently recovering at Nyangabgwe Hospital.
He cannot speak and can only drink mageu and milk with the aid of a straw.
He can barely see, which is perhaps a small blessing as his scarred, blistered features are unrecognisable as belonging to the handsome man he once was.
The Voice learnt that Gaositwe, who has been a ZCC member for 17 years, was the subject of a prophecy from an elder at the popular church, which stated he needed to be exorcised to rid him of his dreaded disorder.
The exorcism required Gaositwe to get into a makeshift sauna, where two red-hot stones are placed into a tub of boiling water while he covers himself up with a blanket to absorb the steam.
However, the process went painfully wrong, leaving the young man in agony, his face a ruined mess.
Oblivious to what had happened, Gaositwe’s mother, 57-year-old Gaontebale Maule said she was at the neighbour’s yard when she got a call late in the evening telling her to come home immediately.
“When I got home I found my son sitting in front of the house crying. He was with the church leader (Tlhabano Kerutilwe) who then told me my son had been injured. I initially thought he had suffered a fit and fallen” revealed Maule.
Nothing could have prepared the shocked mother for what happened next.
“I flicked on my torch and was met by my son’s deformed face,” she continued, her ‘face a picture of horror’ as she recalls the terrible moment.
“He was too weak and my fear was he could have another attack while the nurses were still away.
“Since his admission, he has not uttered a single word. He can’t see and has not eaten anything solid in the last four days,” narrated Maule.
Clad in a Botswana Police t-shirt, the visibly shaken mother said while she understands that accidents happen, she is appalled at the church’s apparent lack of compassion since the incident.
“The church only came to check on him after a week. They gave me P200, which they said was to cover my transport costs. I’m waiting for my son to recover, and then I’ll take action,” threatened Maule.
Gaositwe’s uncle Ipopeng Kenosi, 42, begged the church to take an active role in ensuring his nephew gets the medical help he so desperately needs.
Earlier in the week, The Voice tracked down Nswazi Z.C.C leader Tlhabano Kerutilwe, 81, who confirmed the unfortunate incident.
Kerutilwe revealed he received a prophecy concerning Gaositwe, who was supposed to be covered with a blanket and his body steamed in a tub with hot water and two hot stones.
“We forgot completely about the epilepsy when we performed the prophecy,” he said.
“My younger brother John Kerutilwe was the one performing what the prophecy wanted. I, as the leader of the church, asked him to perform it,” revealed the elder, shaking his head in apparent bewilderment at how wrong the prophecy went.
“As the leader of the church we apologise for what happened to the Maule family and we promise to help them with their son,” added the remorseful pastor quietly.