Pastor Steven Anderson in Botswana
It appears that members of Pastor Steven Anderson’s church, who were also banned by the South African government, have tried to fly to Johannesburg.
While Anderson managed to get to Gaborone to open his Botswana church by bypassing South Africa, GaySA Radio received reports this week that some members of Anderson’s group planned to come into the country via London on a British Airways flight.
The station’s attorney, Coenie Kukkuk, immediately notified the Department of Home Affairs and British Airways. The department confirmed to the station’s Hendrik Baird that its immigration officials were on standby to detain any of those on the banned list should they arrive in South Africa.
It appears that Home Affairs also alerted airports overseas from which Anderson’s followers might try to fly into the country.
There have now been unconfirmed reports that the British Airways flight was delayed for a number of hours in London and that some passengers may have been removed from the aircraft; possibly banned members of Anderson’s church.
According to additional sources, two other banned individuals from the church, Paul Wittenberger (who makes documentaries for the church) and Garret C Kirchway (the new pastor of the Botswana branch) were stopped from boarding a flight to South Africa in Frankfurt on Wednesday.
It is believed that their names were on a visa and entry stop list which led to them not being allowed to board.
It is unclear if the evangelists aimed to host their planned “soulwinning” event in Johannesburg this weekend or simply hoped to catch a connecting flight to Botswana.
Meanwhile, Anderson is working in Gaborone to launch his first African branch, despite failed efforts to have the Botswana government deny him entry.
The Botswana Media and Allied Workers Union this week joined local LGBT groups calling on the authorities to ban the preacher. The groups delivered their petition, signed by more than 2,500 people, to the government, but without success.
In a video update on Thursday, Anderson said that it had taken him 48 hours of travelling to get to Botswana and that he just gotten the keys to his church building. Anderson also said that he expected around 20 followers from North America to arrive in the coming days and urged the South African “faithful” to make their way to Gaborone to join them.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Anderson further revealed that he plans to stream the church’s first services live on the internet this Sunday.
Anderson, who heads up the Arizona-based Faithful Word Baptist Church, has stated that killing gay people would free the world from the AIDS epidemic. Most recently, he praised the Orlando massacre as “good news” because “there’s 50 less paedophiles in this world”. Anderson has continued to preach that governments must execute gay people.
Update 17/09/2016: The Department of Home Affairs confirmed that at least three members of Anderson’s church were prevented from entering the country. They were stopped earlier on Saturday, department spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete told News24.