Anderson and photographer Paul Wittenberger being taken away by immigration officials (Pic: Thuso Motshegwe / Facebook)
Following claims of assault, protests and more hate speech, Pastor Steven Anderson has now been officially banned by Botswana and will be deported.
The drama began with claims that he assaulted Tony Benn, a 59-year-old man, in his church on the weekend, whilst members of the Botswana Humanist Society protested outside.
Benn says he went to the American evangelist’s new church in Gaborone to “listen quietly” and “try to understand his thinking” and insisted that he was not part of the small group of protestors.
However, when he questioned Anderson on his views, the pastor apparently became angry and demanded to know if he is a homosexual or a Christian, allegedly manhandling and throwing Benn off the premises.
“I made the big mistake of saying I’m not a heterosexual and I’m not a homosexual, which made him really wild. In the end I told him I am asexual and felt that it was quite rude of him to ask an old man in public about his sexual preference,” Benn told Mambaonline.
“I was pushed across the car park forcefully [by two men]. I was not hurt by the pushing but onlookers were concerned that I was going to be pushed into a ditch by Anderson’s bodyguards.
“After being pushed outside I argued with [Anderson], saying that probably Paul and Jesus were asexual so what’s the big deal and why does he consider it to be a perversion. He accused me of having AIDS and continued to call me a reprobate…”
Benn later went back to the church to fetch his hat, which he’d left behind, but was refused entry. A television crew arrived and interviewed Benn outside. “Anderson was behind me shouting that I had an AIDS filled mouth…” he said.
“People should be careful because of his temper. I think he needs mental health counselling and help. Perhaps it’s the stress of constant media intrusion into his life and always being on the stage.”
Benn has reported the incident to the police and said that he is planning to press charges of assault against the pastor.
Protesters outside Anderson’s church in Gaborone
On Monday, Anderson admitted to the incident in a YouTube video, describing Benn (who actually identifies as heterosexual) as an “old homo” who “tried to keep pushing his way into the service.”
Anderson said that,” I had to keep grabbing the guy and dragging him out… Obviously we have our right to our private property, so we had every right to drag this guy out of there repeatedly.”
On Tuesday Anderson continued to express his support for the execution of gay people and adulterers in a radio interview on Gabzfm. “How can I let homosexuals into my church when you know they are child molesters,” Anderson said. “They rape and violate children,” he ranted.
While the interview was underway it was reported that immigration officials arrived in the studio. As members of the media gathered round, Anderson and his photographer Paul Wittenberger were whisked away in a car and taken to the Immigration Department.
According to a Facebook post by the local Mmegi newspaper, Wittenberger was later released by the immigration authorities but Anderson remained in detention.
A few hours later, the Botswana Government confirmed in a tweet: “Pastor #StevenAnderson, a #USA citizen has been declared a Prohibited Immigrant and as such is being deported from #Botswana”.
Anderson has already been banned by the UK and South African governments for his hate speech.
Hendrik Baird, GaySA Radio Station Manager, who started the campaign against Anderson in South Africa, welcomed the news of his imminent deportation. “Today we are vindicated as another country says no to hate. Let this be a warning to other Christian colonialists. We have laws and people who deserve respect, no matter their colour, sex or orientation. I am very happy that this hate-monger has been thrown out of Africa.”
He added: “This is another wonderful day for LGBTI people, and we trust this is the start of change throughout the rest of Africa.”