Bishop accused of defaming headman never testified in court

Elijar Mushiana

Elijar Mushiana

A pastor accused, but acquitted, of ritual killings is being boycotted by the community.

Though Bishop Joseph Tanzwani, 75, better known as Ramafamba, of Holiness Apostolic Church in Makonde, near Thohoyandou, Limpopo, was acquitted by the Thohoyandou high court in October in connection with ritual killings, he is not living in peace.

Tanzwani said though he was found not guilty by the court, the community and headman's committee are excluding him from community issues.

"I have also lost many of my church members. I am leading only a few people," Tanzwani said.

Tanzwani said the committee has refused him community services such as a pensioner's subsidised electricity, a water tap and toilet - which others receive.

He said the committee even returned his family's funeral contribution books last month.

"They said that during my trial I told the court that there is hatred between me, the headman and other community structures," Tanzwani said.

"My family is living under depression; I need services like other community members.

"I plead for this matter to be resolved peacefully," he said.

A community member and organiser of the headman committee, Aron Fulufhelo Nedzingahe, said that the bishop will not be allowed to participate in community issues until he apologised for what he said.

"We are not fighting with him but he made a defaming statement about the headman and community structures. We could forgive him if he apologised in front of the people," Nedzingahe said.

Tanzwani's lawyer, Sam Netshifhefhe, said that his client's case was finalised by the court and Tanzwani was acquitted.

"It is not true that he indicated before the court that there is hatred between him and the community structures and headman because he never testified in the court."

Nyelisani Sidimela, 20, survived the ritual killing in which her boyfriend was killed.