A satirical African website has fooled the internet with a ‘too good to be true’ story about a Zimbabwean pastor who was eaten alive by three crocodiles while demonstrating how Jesus walked on water.
The website, National News Bulletin, wrote a story about the unfortunate Pastor Jonathan Mthethwa who it was claimed prayed and fasted for a week before making the attempt to cross ‘Crocodile River’ when he was attacked by the crocodiles.
From there, the story was picked up by Zimbabwe Today on March 24, 2017.
The story came to worldwide prominence after the Nigerian Daily Post picked up the story and wrongly attributed it to the Zimbabwe Herald, who never ran the story.
However, despite the story originating in Zimbabwe, the incident was alleged to have happened in White River Mpumalanga, in an area known locally as Crocodile River in neigbhouring South Africa,
The story was then picked up by a range of national and international publications before further investigations discovered the nature of the original story on a spoof website.
Commenting on the story on Twitter, David Simon, who wrote The Wire, said: ‘The night desk rewrite man inside me doubts a story this perfect. It falls under the newsroom category of “too good to check out”.’
He was responding to Philip Gourevitch of the New Yorker who claimed: ‘The quotations in this story are as close to perfect as we mortals can hope to get.’
According to the original story, an eyewitness called Deacon Nkosi described the scene: ‘The pastor taught us about faith on Sunday last week.
‘He promised he would demonstrate his faith to us today, but he unfortunately ended up drowning and getting eaten by 3 large crocodiles in front of us.
‘We still don’t understand how this happened because he fasted and prayed the whole week. They finished him in a couple of minutes.
‘All that was left of him when they finished eating him is a pair of sandals and his underwear floating above the water.’