Talk about your tales from the crypt. A really strange story is unravelling in a small town in the Free State. At the centre of the drama in Hertzogville, a small town 140km from Bloemfontein, is the body of Paul Meintjies, who died on July 1 after a lengthy illness.
If the prediction of a self-proclaimed prophet, Durban resident David Francis, is to be believed, Meintjies will rise from the dead by the end of today. The much anticipated resurrection was originally scheduled to take place on July 29, however this did not happen.
Whether Meintjies miraculously comes back to life or is carried out of the mortuary, owner Nico Foulds has stated very firmly that he, along with many other people, is now tired of the saga.
This week, Foulds told Meintjies’s widow, Anna, her children, Pieter and Petro Joseph, and Francis that they had until today to have the body removed.
Foulds said he had also asked the Meintjies family to settle their account. The body has been kept in a refrigerator at the mortuary since July 1 at a cost of R250 a day.
Francis, who lives in Durban where he runs a small business doing renovations and waterproofing, founded the Action for Christ Ministries in Johannesburg about 18 years ago.
He has been quoted in Beeld newspaper as saying that the prophecised rising from the dead would be God’s message to the church, as well as for “the Afrikaners and the blacks to repent”.
“I am simply a messenger of God – a servant.”
“I got a message from God that Meintjies must not be buried if he died.
“I told the family that God’s message was that he shouldn’t be buried, that he would rise. They decided to stick by their beliefs.”
While the Meintjies family is prepared to take the prophet at his word, Dominee Johan van der Westhuizen of Hertzogville Dutch Reformed Church is reported to have threatened to “wallop” Francis for his apparent interference with the dominee’s congregation.
This follows Van der Westhuizen’s discovery of an alleged incident in which a member of the Action for Christ Ministries had offered to lay hands on the father of a woman in town and “pray him back to health”.
This is said to have led to Van der Westhuizen promising he would come to blows with Francis if the “prophet” did not leave members of his congregation alone.
While the Meintjies family has stuck by their beliefs, they have experienced opposition from members of the close-knit community.
Pieter Meintjies described the last few weeks as a difficult time for his mother.
Paul Meintjies’s sister, Hettie Vorster, said she was tired of the entire charade.
“My brother was an honourable man and does not deserve this,” she said.
Whether you believe in the prophet or not, the Paul Meintjies saga ends today, one way or the other.