By Andile Tshuma
Two members of the 12 Apostolic Church of Christ in Bulawayo’s Lobengula West suburb appeared in court yesterday for assaulting a church mate belonging to a rival faction.
The church has been rocked by divisions centred on differences that have seen the present church leadership being threatened with ouster for allegedly personalising the church.
Fortune Ndlovu of Lobengula West suburb and Ndodana Nyathi of Cowdray Park suburb pleaded guilty when they appeared before Western Commonage magistrate Ms Nyaradzo Ringisai.
Magistrate Ringisai remanded the duo out of custody to January 16 on free bail for allegedly assaulting Davidson Sibanda of Cowdray Park suburb.
The court heard that 16 different branches of the church went to their main assembly in Lobengula West to demonstrate against the church’s leadership and the accused persons ended up assaulting their church mate who reported the matter to the police.
For the State, Mr Stewart Madzore said a church service was interrupted by fighting as members demonstrated against the church’s leadership.
“On December 17, 2016, at around 1PM, the complainant was in a church service while accused persons were having a meeting outside the church building with other church members. An argument arose between the church members and the two accused persons did not take it lightly. Accused two (Nyathi) held the complainant by the collar while first accused (Ndlovu) person kicked the complainant several times in the stomach with his knee,” he said.
Mr Madzore said congregants have been at loggerheads since May 2015 after Bishops Aleck Francis Dube and Manners Aaron Ngwenya amended the church’s constitution and joined the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) without consulting church members.
The bishops and their allies are said to have forcibly closed the Cowdray Park branch of the church and set up their own assembly in the same neighbourhood.
Ndlovu told the court that the bishops had been allegedly insulting and threatening members of the congregation, telling them that should they keep on speaking out, they would disappear.
Sibanda reported the matter at Magwegwe police station leading to the arrest of Ndlovu and Nyathi.
Sibanda sustained internal injuries and a medical report was produced in court as evidence.The Chronicle