Row over displaced minister worsens
A general conference of the Methodist Church in Africa at the weekend defied two court orders and ruled that Reverend Hintsa Mqaba must leave the his parish for another branch.
In June, the Mohlakeng, Randfontein, congregation, which had challenged Mqaba's removal, won its bid in the Johannesburg High Court to have him retained as their minister.
This was after the district's Bishop Shadrack Phakoane had chosen Reverend Lebogang Molekwane to replace Mqaba in February. Mqaba challenged the move in court and won.
But to Mqaba's dismay, the presiding national bishop, Fezile Lenye, announced during the church's conference in Durban at the weekend that Mqaba would have to move to another parish as per Phakoane's recommendation.
The location of the parish remains unspecified. Phakoane declined to comment on the matter when he was contacted by Sowetanyesterday.
Instead, he referred this newspaper to general secretary ThembekileDyantjie, who could not be reached.
Mqaba confirmed Lenye's announcement about his transfer, but declined to comment further.
A source close to Mqaba said he was planning to again challenge in court the announcement of his imminent move from the Randfontein circuit.
Said the source: "He was very shocked when Bishop Lenye made that announcement on Friday. He feels the church is in contempt of court and has indicated that he will go to the court again should Lenye's announcement be followed through."
The source added: "The conference is also not working in the interest of congregants because the majority of members (200 of the 231) want Mqaba to remain our minister but they don't want that."
In June this year, the Johannesburg High Court ruled that Mqaba's removal as priest of the Randfontein circuit of the Methodist Church in Africa was unconstitutional and must be set aside.
The court also ordered the church's head office to rescind its decision to transfer Mqaba from the circuit and to retain his services.
The Randfontein circuit had taken its mother body, the Methodist Church in Africa, to court following a decision by the main church to remove Mqaba. Most of the congregants were against this move and decided to take legal action.
With the support of the church council, the smaller branch accused the main branch of abusing its powers.
The Randfontein church contended that the decision to remove Mqaba was contrary to procedure, unlawful and violated its own constitution and that of the country.