Times of Eswatini
Fight breaks out inside church: ‘ Mob’ lifts pastor out
FON TOT J E–Tension reached ‘ boiling point’ at Free Evangelical Assemblies ( FEA) in Fontotje. Fontotje is a community within Buhleni.
It is alleged that church members engaged in a fight where a pastor was allegedly forcefully removed from the church premises.
The pastor, * Jack, was allegedly forced out by a mob consisting of worshippers.
The incident is said to have happened last Sunday at around 2pm.
Cases of members of the public for ming mobs to resolve disputes have been on the increase.
Under normal circumstances, churches, however, preach non- violence and that members should resolve disputes without engaging in fights.
The Fontotje EA is currently divided about who should be the rightful pastor to lead the congregation.
One of the pastors claims that the land on which the church was built is his, while the other faction alleges that the church belongs to the larger FEA Mission.
Some of the details of the dispute will not be mentioned as the matter is pending at the High Court. The matter was also reported to the local umphakatsi.
The division has left the church fighting about which group has the right to use the church.
At some point, the church was locked up for several months but the worshippers had to approach the local umphakatsi to allow them to continue worshipping after they claimed that young girls were now falling pregnant due to not attending church.
The umphakatsi ruled that the two factions should choose different times to worship after allowing them to continue using the church.
One group uses the church from 8: 30am to 11am while the other from 11: 30am to 1pm.
The local umphakatsi is said to have advised the divided members to use the church accordingly while awaiting the final verdict on the dispute.
It is alleged the church has two pastors. The umphakatsi is said to have ordered church members to use the structure at different times while their dispute was still pending in court.
Each group has its own pastor. Jack is the pastor of one of the groups while * Moses overseas the other.
On the Sunday of the alleged scuffle, Jack’s session is said to have used the church from 11: 30am while the other also wanted to use it at the same time.
This is said to have resulted in the congregants also failing to collect the offering because it was not clear which of the faction would take it.
At around 2pm, the faction that is said to be led by Moses is said to have wanted to lockup the church but discovered that Jack was still inside.
Moses’ church members then allegedly began to remove some of Jack’s equipment from inside the church in readiness to lockup.
However, Jack is said to have refused to be moved out, resulting in a scuffle. It was during this time that Jack was allegedly forcefully removed.
It is alleged Jack was assaulted during the scuffle.
However, Moses, who was contacted on the matter, disputed that Jack was assaulted though he acknowledged that he was removed from the church.
Moses also said he was not present during the scuffle but that he was infor med about it.
According to some of the congregants, trouble is said to have started over three weeks ago when one of the church mem
bers, who is also a security guard, was allegedly locked out of his house.
He sleeps in a house that is situated at the church. It is alleged that one of the senior church members welded the door, leading into the security guard’s house, shut to prevent him from retur ning.
When the security guard retur ned, he discovered that his house had been locked and called some of his friends to assist.
It is alleged that when the security guard’s friends arrived at the church, other congregants with whom they are at loggerheads with arrived. A commotion ensued and it is alleged that the church members fought among themselves.
At this time, it was said some church members managed to open the house that had been locked after the welding.
The security guard is said to have entered the house and locked himself inside, but he was allegedly threatened that he would be burnt alive.
After several minutes of fighting, it is alleged the police from Buhleni Police Post were called.
This resulted in the church members scattering, in fear that they would be charged and arrested.
Incidents of assault are said to have been reported at the Buhleni Police Post.
This publication also recently reported about an incident in which church members, including a pastor, were assaulted near Big Bend.
These incidents have highlighted the increased cases of members of the public using violence to solve disputes.
The Chief Police Infor mation and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confir med that incidents relating to threats were reported at the Buhleni Police Post.