Controversial Pastor Penuel Mnguni of the End Times Disciples Ministries in South Africa reportedly admitted to Nigerian megachurch preacher T.B. Joshua that he misread the Bible in having his congregants eat live snakes back in 2015.
Mnguni claimed at the time that through the power of God true believers can eat anything. Photos emerged online showing the pastor feeding live snakes, rats, underwear and other things to congregants.
South Africa's Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities rose up against his practices, however, and he was arrested, before being released in 2016.
"A normal person cannot eat snakes — you must be spiritual. To show that God was with me, no one has died," he said at the time.
The Citizen reported on Sunday that Mnguni has asked T.B. Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations for deliverance, however, and explained how he came to misread the Bible.
"It started when I was teaching the word of God, Mark 16: 16 – 18, where it says: 'he that believes in me, these signs shall follow them; they shall pick up snakes, they will even drink deadly poison and it shall not harm them. And also Romans 14, where it says to those who believe, to those who have a strong faith, they can eat anything. And to those who have weak faith, they can only eat vegetables," Mnguni stated.
He said that his reading at the time led him to start feeding live snakes to his church members, which prompted outrage all over South Africa, with the government cracking down on his ministry.
"I came to realize that what I was doing was not written in the Bible," he said recently.
"I started watching Emmanuel TV, listening to prophet T.B. Joshua, I came to realize that what I was doing was not scriptural. I came to realize that It's an attack. I came to T.B. Joshua to deliver me," he added.
As Vanguard pointed out, the so-called "snake pastor" has prompted other major controversies, and once reportedly told church members to "undress in church and start masturbating until they reached orgasms."
Mnguni is now asking to be set free from the spirit that had him engage "in such bizarre, inhumane actions."
The National Interfaith Council of South Africa warned back in 2015 that such practices are harmful to society and commercialize religion.
"Any kind of religion that propagates ideas that are unacceptable; we cannot support that," the council's Rev. Thamin Mvambo said at the time. "Their claims are not even founded in any scripture; [these are] things that they are actually propagating out of their own minds."
Joshua is also viewed as a controversial figure. He has hosted miraculous healing ceremonies, claiming to help blind people see and the deaf people hear again.
And claiming to have the gift of prophecy, he predicted in 2012 the death of a president of a southern African country. Malawi President Bingu Wa Mutharika died just two months later.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria has distanced itself from Joshua, however, as have other megachurch leaders in Nigeria.
"He is an occultist," Anselm Madubuko, pastor of the 12,000-member Revival Assembly Church in Lagos, said. "Joshua claims he was born again in his mother's womb. It is tragic that Spirit-filled people are led astray by him."