Tue Sep 26 11:05:38 SAST 2017

More legal woes for ZCC, bishop

2017-08-21 10:35:10.0 | Ngwako Malatji |

The Zion Christian Church and its leader Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane have a new chapter in their growing Bible of legal woes.

Picture credit: Edward Maahlamela

This after its Botswana branch labelled Lekganyane a liar and interdicted him and the church from hauling them before a disciplinary hearing or expelling them from the church.

The Tlokweng branch, represented by 17 members, obtained the interdict from the High Court of Botswana sitting in Lobatse two weeks ago.

Africa's biggest church, headquartered in Moria outside Polokwane, Limpopo, wanted to take the 17 members to a hearing after accusing them of performing unorthodox church rituals, wearing a uniform different to others and taking the church to court for refusing to comply with their demands.

Attempts to solicit comment from church spokesman Emmanuel Motolla drew a blank as he ignored phone calls and text messages.

According to court papers seen by Sunday World, the problem started when the church wanted to take the rebel members to court on November 20 2015 for demanding the appointment of the executive council in accordance with the church's constitution and convene annual general meetings (AGMs) on a yearly basis.

The Botswana chapter also wanted the appointment of a minister, whose position has been vacant since July 2009, to run the affairs of their branch and establish a property committee.

The rebel group also wanted the church to empower the executive council to review the decisions of the previous one as it was not properly appointed, and put in place all the structures provided for in the church's constitution within a period of 30 days.

They claimed the church and Lekganyane ignored the letter they sent on April 8 2014 requesting them to address the issues. They also claimed that their attempt to get Lekganyane to intervene in the matter did not bear any fruits.

"Anxious to get their problems resolved the applicants took up their grievances with the court and because they deployed a wrong cause of action, they withdrew their case," reads the court papers.

They said that soon after the withdrawal, they were served with a vague disciplinary charge sheet on June 27 2015.

The members say they refused to attend the hearing after the church and Lekganyane refused to furnish them with more details of the charges levelled against them.

They instead applied for a court order to force Lekganyane and the church to comply with their demands to, among others, convene the AGM and appoint the minister to lead the church in the southern African country.

The church argued that the members dismissed themselves from the church by taking it and Lekganyane to court.

It also argued that the members wore a different uniform from others and that they performed rituals like ascending the mountain at night and cleanse in the river when they descended, something which is forbidden by the church.

"The applicants have repudiated their membership of the church by impeaching the integrity of the bishop," reads the papers.

The members argued they had taken the church to court and withdrew the matter because they wanted to draw the attention of Lekganyane to hear their grievances after they were ignored by senior church leaders.

They also said that when they met with Lekganyane, they confessed to all their transgressions and asked for forgiveness.

But despite extending an olive branch, they said the church and Lekganyane still wanted to discipline them for litigating against them.

The parties will meet in court soon where they will go toe to toe over the grievances they lodged.

Last month, Advocate Jerry Mphafolane Koma also took Lekganyane and the church to court to prevent it from taking him to a disciplinary hearing for the things he said in court when he challenged an interdict to prevent him from attending the traditional Easter weekend pilgrimage in Moria.

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