By Mashudu Netsianda
The Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) has fired a pastor who indecently assaulted a prominent Bulawayo lawyer last year.
The disgraced ‘man of God’ Brighton Ndebele (32) was convicted of indecently assaulting the lawyer in October 2016 by Bulawayo magistrate Ms Adelaide Mbeure.
Ndebele was sentenced to 12 months in jail and three months were suspended for three years on condition that he did not within that period commit a similar offence.
The remaining nine months were further suspended on condition that he performs 315 hours of community service at Hillside Police Station.
According to a letter of dismissal dated February 23, 2017, the church voted at a church business meeting that Ndebele should be relieved of his duties as a pastor.
The letter, which was addressed to Ndebele, was signed by one P Ncube who is the SDA’s Bulawayo City Centre head elder and two church clerks only identified as S Hanyane and N Nyathi.
“This letter serves to notify you that on the 18th of February 2017, the church voted at a church business meeting that your name be removed from the Bulawayo City Centre Church records. This follows our letter advising you of the church board recommendation dated January 28, 2017,” reads part of the letter.
The church’s Bulawayo City Centre deputy head elder Mr Daniel Musundire also confirmed Ndebele’s dismissal in papers filed before the High Court last month.
Mr Musundure’s court filing was in response to an urgent chamber application by the abused lawyer’s husband challenging the church’s decision to slap him with a seven month censure without conducting a proper disciplinary hearing.
The censure barred the applicant from participating, by voice or vote, in the affairs of the church.
The lawyer’s husband, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his wife, argued that he was censured by members of the board, deacons and deaconess and elders’ councils for confronting the pastor who indecently harassed his wife and reporting him to the police.
In papers before the court, the lawyer’s husband cited SDA’s Bulawayo City Centre branch and the church’s headquarters, South Zimbabwe Conference of the SDA Church as respondents.
The lawyer’s husband sought an order nullifying the censure. However, the church leadership said the lawyer’s husband was being silenced for disrupting church activities and perpetrating violence.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi last month blocked SDA from censuring the lawyer’s husband.
However, the church had disputed that the conviction of Ndebele was linked to the censure and said the disgraced pastor had since been fired.
“I can confirm that the pastor (Ndebele), for his actions, has been disciplined by the SDA Bulawayo City Centre. His name was removed from the church register on the 18th of February 2016,” said Mr Musundire.
On April 20 last year at around midday, Ndebele went to the lawyer’s workplace to discuss church business since the complainant was also a head of social committees in the church.
After the discussion and when he was about to leave office, the pastor solicited for a hug from the complainant and she declined.
He then forcibly pulled the woman by the hand and squeezed her to his chest, before holding her waist and caressed her back and buttocks.
The complainant narrated her ordeal to a fellow congregant before she reported the matter to the police leading to Ndebele’s arrest. The Chronicle