High Court blocks AFMA evic­tions

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mashudu Net­sianda Se­nior Court Re­porter

THE High Court on Thur­day blocked Rev­erend Clement Ny­athi’s fac­tion from evict­ing his ri­vals from the Apos­tolic Faith Mis­sion of Africa (AFMA) build­ings across the coun­try.

Rev Ny­athi sought to ex­e­cute an or­der un­der case num­ber HC HC2700/14 pend­ing a Supreme Court ap­peal by a ri­val group led by Rev El­liot Ncube.

The two ri­val camps have for the past three years been locked in an ac­ri­mo­nious le­gal bat­tle over the con­trol of church prop­erty.

The late Rev Tony Tshuma who was the church over­seer and leader of a camp op­posed to Rev Ny­athi, died in May and left a lead­er­ship vac­uum in the trou­ble-rid­den church whose head­quar­ters is in Bu­l­awayo’s Loben­gula Ex­ten­sion sub­urb.

The rul­ing by Bu­l­awayo High Court Jus­tice Ni­cholas Mathonsi fol­lows an ur­gent cham­ber ap­pli­ca­tion for stay of ex­e­cu­tion of an evic­tion or­der by Rev Ncube pend­ing the de­ter­mi­na­tion of two Supreme Court ap­peals un­der SC351/15 and SC 389/15.

In pa­pers be­fore the court, Rev­erends Ny­athi, Joseph Ma­tongo, Abel Hele Me­phu­lan­gogala, Phibion Many­owa and the Sher­iff of High Court were cited as the re­spon­dents.

Rev Ncube, new leader of the fac­tion that used to be led by Rev Tshuma and which con­trols most of the church prop­erty, ar­gued that the evic­tion or­der un­der HC2700/14 and HC1669/15 had been au­to­mat­i­cally sus­pended by the not­ing of the Supreme Court ap­peal.

Jus­tice Nokuthula Moyo last year in­ter­dicted Rev Ncube, the late Rev Tshuma and their agents from in­ter­fer­ing, vis­it­ing or us­ing the church build­ing. She also or­dered them to re­lin­quish con­trol of all church prop­er­ties in the coun­try.

Rev Tshuma then ap­pealed at the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court post­poned the mat­ter last month pend­ing the ap­point­ment of an ex­ecu­tor of Rev Tshuma’s es­tate in terms of Sec­tion 44 of the Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Es­tates Act.

The law pro­hibits the su­ing or ob­tain­ing of a writ of ex­e­cu­tion af­ter the death of a judg­ment debtor.

“Al­low­ing ex­e­cu­tion to con­tinue in all the cir­cum­stances of this mat­ter would re­sult in an in­jus­tice. This is a mat­ter in­volv­ing the split of a ma­jor church… and the ba­sis upon which ex­e­cu­tion is sought is a de­fault judg­ment which has been im­pugned,” said Jus­tice Mathonsi.

The judge ruled that the court had a duty to reg­u­late its process in such a way as to avoid con­fu­sion and anar­chy.

“Evic­tions may mean that if the Supreme Court up­holds the ap­peals there would be pain and suf­fer­ing for a lot of peo­ple when the process is be­ing re­versed again. What ac­cords with fair­ness and jus­tice is to al­low the sta­tus quo to re­main un­til the ap­peals are fi­nalised and there­fore, in the ju­di­cious ex­er­cise of my dis­cre­tion, I will stay ex­e­cu­tion,” ruled Jus­tice Mathonsi.

Rev Ny­athi said that Rev Ncube and his camp broke away and formed their church, the Apos­tolic Faith Church of Africa In­ter­na­tional.

Rev Ny­athi fur­ther said he was duly ap­pointed over­seer and pres­i­dent in terms of the 1986 church con­sti­tu­tion.

How­ever, Rev Ncube ar­gued that his ri­vals fraud­u­lently amended the 1986 con­sti­tu­tion of the church to fa­cil­i­tate the ap­point­ment of Rev Ny­athi as leader.

Last year, con­gre­gants from ri­val camps fought run­ning bat­tles with po­lice at the Loben­gula Ex­ten­sion church as the strug­gle for the lead­er­ship of the church turned bloody.

Rev Ny­athi ac­cused Rev Tshuma of con­niv­ing with some ‘few mis­guided in­di­vid­u­als’ to im­pose him­self as the church leader soon af­ter the death of its founder Rev Phile­mon Sibanda in 2008. The late Rev Sibanda broke away from the orig­i­nal Apos­tolic Faith Church in Pe­land­aba in 1985 with his sym­pa­this­ers and formed their own church at Loben­gula Ex­ten­sion, re­nam­ing it Apos­tolic Faith Mis­sion of Africa. The Pe­land­aba church was founded by the late Rev Mor­gan Seng­wayo in 1955.

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