Church members want the priest out
TWO SIDES TO TELL: "He swears at us in church during services" VERSUS "They are just angry because the priest suspended the choir for drinking every weekend and engaging in sex with one another at parties"
CHAOS erupted at St Zeno Catholic Church at Letlhabile township near Brits in North West yesterday.
About 50 church members stood outside the church building and refused to enter the church until their priest, Father Bernard Rakeketsi, stepped down.
Sowetan was present when protesting church members insisted they had no confidence in their priest. They are accusing him of improper conduct and maladministration. They said Rakeketsi's leadership was destroying the church.
Church spokesman Steve Marokana, however, dismissed the allegations, saying the protesters were trying to settle scores with the priest.
"These people just want to drag the name of the priest through the mud. He is a man of God and has been faithful and truthful to the congregation," he said.
Marokana said the tension started after Rakeketsi suspended the church choir.
"They are just angry because the priest suspended the choir for misbehaving. They were drinking (liquor) every weekend and engaging in sex with one another at parties. The priest saw it was best to discipline them by suspending the choir."
One of the church members, who did not want to be named, agreed with the group about the priest.
"He swears at us in church during services."
Some members complained that since April this year, they had been demoralised by happenings in the church and had opted not to go to church.
Only four members attended the service yesterday. After Sowetan's arrival, church elders helped the priest escape through a back door. But angry congregation had locked the gate, preventing his car from leaving.
One of the church elders said he was thinking of going to another church because the squabbles were taking their a toll on his family.
Rakeketsi is serving the third year of his five-year term. The 500-strong congregation elected him as its priest in January 2009, a month after Father Thabiso Ledwaba was sent to a missionary school overseas.