The body of Oom Paul Meintjies was taken to the police mortuary in Bloemfontein on Saturday, and the prophet who predicted the dead man would rise again has gone to ground.
Residents of Hertzogville in the Free State said David Francis, who fixes leaking roofs in Durban for a living, was too embarrassed to face the community after his attempts at playing God turned into farce.
Francis had convinced the family and friends of Oom Paul, who died seven weeks ago at the age of 74 after suffering a stroke, that he would return from the dead on July 29.
According to Nick Foulds, the undertaker, Francis had become the subject of much ridicule and had locked himself in his house and unplugged the telephone.
Meanwhile, unless the Meintjies family decides it has given up on hopes of his resurrection, Oom Paul will be given a pauper’s burial.
Captain Sam Makhele, the Free State police spokesperson, said the authorities would wait until Monday for word from the family before applying to the court for permission to bury Oom Paul.
Makhele said the dead man’s body was removed from the family’s residence in Hertzogville at 6am on Saturday because of the health risk it posed.
The Meintjies family had asked Foulds to keep the body in the mortuary because they had listened to advice from Francis that he would rise from the dead on July 29. However, when Oom Paul failed to get up as predicted, undertaker Foulds began to get agitated.
“Initially I thought the whole thing was a joke, then it became a reality and eventually a nuisance,” Foulds said.
After keeping Oom Paul’s body for 50 days, Foulds sent it back to the family home on Wednesday, demanding R12 000 in storage fees.
“I was relieved to have it away from my mortuary,” he said.
Foulds said Francis was nowhere to been seen and people in the town were upset at the “stupidity” of the Meintjies family in believing him.
Frustrated residents marched to the Meintjies home earlier in the week to protest against the family.
“People are too embarrassed to talk about this, so it seems the prophet is red-faced too. Everyone here just wants the matter to rest,” Foulds said.
“Well how would you feel if your brother was lying in a mortuary two months after he died and someone said he was going to get up?” asked Hettie Vorster, Oom Paul’s sister.
“The man [Francis] gave us a date and nothing materialised, now instead of saying he was wrong, he made a mistake, he is nowhere to be found.
“He is sitting in his house, too ashamed to come out,” she said.
“My brother should have been buried soon after his death, and the family should not have allowed such a mockery.”
Vorster said she did not know Francis personally. “I only know he came up here from Durban with a girl and my family befriended him.
“I just hope my brother can be left to rest in peace,” she said.
Efforts to contact Francis were fruitless.