It is 14h00 in the afternoon on a Thursday afternoon in down town Durban, and inside a warehouse building Dr Hamilton Q Nala is holding his afternoon church ceremony to his congregation of about 1000 people. The church is easily identified by a banner with Nala’s face outside what you would easily mistake as a motor vehicle warehouse.
A clear schedule with times of the different church services is clearly printed on the banner. Church services take place three times a day in the morning, afternoon and evening from Monday to Sunday.
Stepping inside the warehouse church you are guided to a chair by the church archers wearing the signature Nala T-shirts written “DR HQ Nala uyatrapa siyakuvuma”, meaning Dr HQ Nala you are strong we have faith in you. These T-shirts are sold for R80 at the door together with the bottles of holy water sold for R10 for the small bottles and R30 for the big one. The congregation is encouraged to purchase and wear these t-shirts. This I learned after the church ceremony. While waiting for my cab, one church member wearing the t-shirt scolded at a woman selling apples and bananas outside the church for not purchasing a T-shirt! He stated that she should purchase the t-shirt and wear it and see how many people would then flock to her stand. Which was funny since her stand was the only stand there and she had no competition.
It wasn’t long after sitting inside the congregation before Nala started making very careless and contradictive statement about HIV/ Aids treatment and faith. In one sentence he said he does not have the right to tell anyone to stop taking their ARV’s only a doctor can say that, then turns around and says that he can heal HIV/Aids. It was clear after the ceremony that Dr HQ Nala was a very dynamic and confident speaker. In a video footage taken inside his church you will see him casting out “demons” from a member of the congregation and predictions of sicknesses that people are suffering from in the crowd that he states he can heal them from.
In the video you hear Nala advising his congregation not to wear his t-shirts when they go to the clinics and not disclose they’re HIV statuses. He further tells them to go to a different clinic to test and not the clinic they usually use because “they are scared”.
Our attempts to interview a nurse at one of the clinics in eShowe were unsuccessful because the nurses refused to be involved in Dr Nala cases because they fear being cursed by him.