Jean-Jacques Cornish

SA sends disaster management team to Nigeria after church collapse


South Africa’s sending an advance team of disaster management personnel to Lagos following the deaths of 67 of its nationals in the rubble of a church that collapsed in the Nigerian commercial capital.

Pretoria’s foreign affairs chief says an inter-departmental team has been put together to coordinate all government activities relating to the calamity.




Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana Mashebane was speaking nearly a day after President Jacob Zuma announced the deaths of 67 compatriots in the Lagos building collapse.

Significantly, her statement doesn’t mention cooperation by the Synagogue Church of All Nations headed by TB Joshua or the Nigerian government.

Officials in both her department and the presidency say the Nigerian authorities are being less than forthcoming.

At least five South African tour groups were in the building when it collapsed last Friday.

Nkoana Mashebane says her government’s  treating the matter with the utmost urgency.

It understands fully the pain and anguish of affected families.



The South African High Commission in the capital, Abuja, has seconded staff to Lagos to provide assistance to the Consul-General.

She’s provided a hotline for families and friends of possible victims.

Two South African rescue charities skilled at working international disasters say they’re waiting for the green light from Nigeria to send teams to Lagos.


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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.