BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
FORMER bishops and the secretariat of the African Apostolic Church (Vapostora VeAfrica) have been barred from visiting the church’s shrine in Chivhu without the authority of the current leadership.
In an urgent chamber application made by the church in January this year, through its board of trustees, vice-chairperson Patrick Mahachi and Ernest Mhambare, who is the second applicant, the church alleged that the former members invaded their place of worship in Chivhu known as Guvambwa.
Upon invading one of the church’s most sacred shrines, the respondents allegedly removed the door to the church offices and replaced it. They also mapped out construction plans on the land belonging to the church.
“Respondents, who are defrocked former members of the church had taken over one of the buildings at the shrine. They evinced the intention of starting major construction works at the shrine commencing January 31, 2022, without the consent of the church. The applicants acted with urgency and filed an urgent chamber application the very same day,” Mahachi submitted.
“Respondents have marked out certain areas of the shrine land for trenching and have indicated that building materials and more workers will arrive…the respondents have signalled their serious intent by placing an advance team that will lead the construction work in this building, without the consent of the church. They have actually changed windows and put a new door to an existing building.”
A former bishop, Alfred Mwazha, however, issued a notice of opposition on February 3, dismissing the urgent chamber application saying it was based on falsehoods.
The church has over 100 000 followers.
“The first applicant is not properly before the court and cannot institute legal proceedings at the instance of the persons behind this application, the matter is not urgent,” Mwazha submitted.
“The jurisdiction facts on which the applicants are asserting as urgency are fake. The respondents have not been to the Guvambwa shrine this year. There is no construction as alleged. There’s no plan whatsoever for the respondent to engage in the alleged construction works. The applicants are misleading for reasons best known to themselves.”
High Court judge Justice Emilia Muchawa ordered the respondents to stay off the church’s shrine as long as they do not have express consent from the current leadership.
“The first to eighth respondents be, and hereby ordered not to visit the shrines of the first applicant, without the consent of the current leadership of the church… are hereby ordered not to convene meetings of the African Apostolic Church or visit the first applicant’s shrines or places of worship or organise any event there. Pending return date, by consent of the parties, neither party shall undertake any construction works, improvements or other developments at the Guvambwa shrine,” the judgment read.
“If you wish to oppose confirmation of this provisional order, you will have to file a notice of opposition…together with one or more opposing affidavits with the registrar of the High Court at Harare within 10 days after the date of which this provisional order was served upon you. If you do not file an opposing affidavit within the period specified above, this matter will be set down for hearing in the High Court at Harare without further notice to you and will be dealt with as an unopposed application for confirmation of the provisional order.”
The respondents from first to eighth are Alfred Kushamisa Mwazha, Ngoni Edward Mwazha (a former bishop), James Mwazha, Richard Juru (former general secretary), Elson Tafa, Charles Tekeshe, Lovemore Mharadze and Norman Siyamuzhombwe.
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