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Reading in the South Africa newspapers about the awful church building collapse of the popular prophet T. B. Joshua in Nigeria lead me to the claims of Jaco van der Westhuyzen regarding T. B. Joshua's miraculous healing powers:

From an early age I was very religious. Both my parents were Dutch Reformed Christians. But it was not until 2000 that faith healing and TB Joshua, the Nigerian they call 'the Prophet', came into my life. I had just broken into the Springbok team when I ruptured my posterior cruciate ligament playing against Western Province one Sunday in August 2000. The doctor took X-rays and said I needed to have an operation that Wednesday...

Towards the end of the service about 300 of us gathered in what they call the 'healing line'. The Prophet walked down the line, identifying illnesses. When he came to me, he said I should remove my leg brace. He looked at me and it was like he had x-ray vision, like he could see immediately what was wrong with my knee. Moving his hands around as if he was tugging a rope, he seemed to pull out all the dirt and other stuff that was in my knee. Then he said to me: 'Stand up and run.' The brace had been on for weeks and running should have been impossible. Well, I trusted my faith and started to run - and at full speed. There was no pain. Back home I had another x-ray, and it showed the ligament was fine. The doctor could not believe or explain it.

(one of many sources)

This is routinely quoted in otherwise respectable newspapers as fact. It caught my skeptical attention because:

  • faith healing, obviously
  • the claimant is a reasonably well-known public figure
  • the claim seems testable due to before/after medical examinations
  • claimant resumed his professional playing career

But I have been unable to find more details other than the oft-quoted bits above or super short summaries of the miracle. Can anyone help unravel the mystery of the Springbok Knee?

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  • omg... "Another Bulls and Bok player, the young lock Wium Basson, had developed terminal cancer and also went to see the Prophet. But he died soon after coming back to South Africa. You know, initially when I went to see TB Joshua it was for a quick fix, to make the Bok tour. Maybe Wium felt the same. I know for certain that he did not know the Lord as well as he should have at that time. If your faith is not right, the Lord will tell TB Joshua not to heal you." --- scoan.org/blog/2009/06/09/…
    – bukwyrm
    Commented Jul 3, 2023 at 9:20

1 Answer 1

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PCL injuries can be treated operatively, though the best method has not yet been established. PCL injuries can also be treated non-operatively.

Good outcomes for non-operative treatment of PCL injuries have been reported, even for athletes though the paper does not control for belief in specific (or any) deities.

According to this account of the miracle, Westhuyzen walked around several weeks after the injury with a knee brace, so the injury was not fresh - he may have built coping mechanisms.

As the deepness of held beliefs cannot be independently verified, the account of the PCL of Westhuyzen being miraculously healed, while another player (Basson) with cancer died after seeking the same miraculous treatment from the same healer leaves some ambiguity over the reason.

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