RESIDENTS of Kitwe’s Buchi-Kamitondo township yesterday ran amok and set ablaze a Faith Deeper and Understanding Ministries (FDUM) church after word went round that its pastor had allegedly turned into a snake during his healing prayer session for the sick.
The angry residents, who stormed the church around 10:00 hours, threw stones at the building before looting it.
The attack left the congregants bewildered as they scampered for safety.
Some congregants quickly mobilised and evacuated the “patients” from the church building which was under siege from the angry mob.
The crowd grew in number and entered the church in a bid to have a glimpse of pastor Anthony Musuku who had allegedly turned into a snake.
FDUM treasurer Samuel Mvula said allegations that pastor Musukwa had turned into a snake are false and a ploy by his “rivals” to bring him down.
The instant justice mob later set the church building on fire and reducing it to ashes.
Five vehicles at nearby Kalesto Motors garage in the church premises also caught fire before a team of firefighters from Kitwe City Council and Mopani Copper Mines arrived at the scene.
A check by a Daily Mail team found police officers patrolling the township while the church building was reduced to rubble.
Police officers in full riot gear fired tear gas at the crowd but the angry residents retaliated with stones at the advancing law enforcers.
Copperbelt commissioner of police Joyce Kasosa said in an interview yesterday that three people were apprehended in connection with the riot.
Ms Kasosa said the residents accused Pastor Musuku of changing into a snake and practising satanism.
She named those arrested as Elasta Mtonga, Lizar Mwansa and Cecilia Mwango, all of Buchi-Kamitondo township.
“Yes, I can confirm that we had a fracas in Buchi-Kamitondo after people heard that there was a pastor who allegedly turned into a snake. Three people have been arrested,” Ms Kasosa said.
Firefighters, who went to put out the fire at the church building, were not spared by the irate residents who pelted them with stones.
Kitwe chief fire officer Rabson Mbawa, who was found at the scene, said the angry mob also damaged the fire engine in the fracas.
He, however, said the firefighters later returned to the scene under police escort.