Holy war over church’s purse

CityPress - - News - ABRAM MASHEGO abram.mashego@city­press.co.za

The battle for con­trol of In­ter­na­tional Pen­te­cost Ho­li­ness Church funds has spewed out into courts as church lead­ers ac­cuse Tshep­iso Modise, the son of the late bishop Glay­ton Modise (fondly re­ferred to as “the com­forter”) of mis­us­ing church re­sources. They want the church’s bank, Stan­dard Bank, to stop giv­ing sole ac­cess to church funds, es­ti­mated at R2 bil­lion, to young Modise and al­low other se­nior of­fi­cials sign­ing rights to the ac­count.

The South Gaut­eng High Court will have to de­cide on Tues­day who should have con­trol of and ac­cess to the mil­lions of rands in church funds saved in the Stan­dard Bank ac­count. It is be­lieved the rul­ing will also have an ef­fect on other ac­counts in two other large South African banks.

City Press has copies of court doc­u­ments show­ing church lead­ers have hauled Stan­dard Bank and Modise to court over ac­cess to the funds. The lead­ers have urgently re­quested an or­der seek­ing to com­pel Stan­dard Bank to un­freeze the church ac­count and per­mit the ap­pli­cants to ac­cess it.

In the found­ing af­fi­davit, made by Rev­erend Al­fred Mohlala, the church states that he was ap­pointed by the church’s body of el­ders as per the church’s con­sti­tu­tion. It re­quests the court to

Who should have con­trol of and ac­cess to church funds?

SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word YOUTH and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50 or­der the bank to recog­nise him and grant him rights to ac­cess the bank ac­count. It also ar­gues that the bank has pre­vented the ap­pointed au­di­tors ac­cess to the funds to au­dit the ac­count, which was a vi­o­la­tion of an ear­lier court rul­ing that au­tho­rised the au­dits to be un­der­taken.

“Upon the com­forter’s [Modise se­nior’s] pass­ing, Tshep­iso claimed that the com­forter had ap­pointed him to be his heir and suc­ces­sor in ac­cor­dance with the church’s con­sti­tu­tion. The church, its coun­cil, the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee of the coun­cil and all the other gov­er­nance struc­tures de­nied the claim.”

Modise launched an ur­gent court ap­pli­ca­tion to be in­stalled as the new church com­forter. A fac­tion of the church op­posed the ap­pli­ca­tion and this case is still pend­ing be­fore Judge Jody Kol­lapen. A date has yet to be set for the hear­ing. How­ever, Kol­lapen has given a tem­po­rary or­der en­abling the cur­rent church ex­ec­u­tives, com­pris­ing four per­sons, to man­age the dayto-day run­ning of the church.

Ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ments, Stan­dard Bank al­legedly re­fused to recog­nise the exco mem­bers and has re­fused them ac­cess to the ac­counts, say­ing Modise was the sole sig­na­tory.

Mohlala and the church ex­ec­u­tive, rep­re­sented by Langa At­tor­neys, are seek­ing to com­pel the bank to grant the newly ap­pointed au­di­tors ac­cess to the church ac­counts to cre­ate a layer of ac­count­abil­ity.

The dis­pute, dubbed a “holy war” by the me­dia, has made head­lines since the death of the leader. Modise se­nior died at Medi­clinic Morn­ing­side, Jo­han­nes­burg, fol­low­ing a short ill­ness in Fe­bru­ary this year.

The heated suc­ces­sion battle, now en­ter­ing its fourth month, has been marred by violence, with some se­nior mem­bers engaged in fights in front of the con­gre­ga­tion. In one in­ci­dent in April, po­lice con­firmed that Peter Nkomo (44) died af­ter be­ing pelted with stones at the church’s premises in Soshanguve, north of Pre­to­ria, while three other mem­bers were se­ri­ously in­jured. The other mem­bers were also stoned.

This week, Modise failed to ap­pear be­fore We­stonaria Mag­is­trates’ Court on a domestic-violence charge against his step­mother, Nosipho Tafu. The two have laid coun­ter­charges against each with the po­lice.

Stan­dard Bank and Modise did not re­spond to City Press’ e-mails, SMSes and calls by the time of go­ing to print.

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