WARNING: This story contains graphic photos and details that may be disturbing to some readers. Discretion is advised.
A South African man is facing charges of animal cruelty due to his unorthodox and unethical practices as a priest. According to reports, Penuel Mnguni would force members of his congregation to ingest live snakes, eat hair, and swallow ribbons and bits of paper. He told his followers that they had to perform these acts as a test of their faith.
Mnguni would refer to himself as a prophet, and his congregation allegedly believed he was able to perform miracles, thanks to his faith in God.
He would read to his followers from the Bible, then tell them that if they ate the live snakes as a show of faith, they would change into chocolate in their mouths.
He reportedly also put his congregation into ‘trances’, and pictures show him walking on top of his followers as they lay on the ground.
Mnguni also fed the hair of one church member to another, and made others eat pieces of cloth rags and ribbons.
His bizarre performances and rituals might have continued, had the SPCA not tipped off local police.
In a statement to the Daily Mail, SPCA inspector Andrew Kekana said:
“He was doing a lot of things that were unacceptable, both to his congregation and the snakes. But our jurisdiction only relates to animals, so we can only lay a charge against him for that.
The pictures are evidence of illegal possession of indigenous protected snakes and cruelty to them.
We have asked other pastors to help raise awareness against animal cruelty, and if snakes or other animals are abused in this way, the SPCA will act.”
Mnguni has been ridiculed across social media, with many calling his practices ‘satanic’ in nature, and unholy.