Congregants up in arms over 'graft'
THERE was no preaching and praying at the Rock Praise Centre in Rockville, Soweto, yesterday as congregants protested and demanded that their pastor leave.
Dressed in Bafana Bafana jerseys, the congregants sang Amahlathi aphelile, loosely translated as no more hiding.
They carried placards saying "You are a liar hiding behind the word of God."
The congregants accuse Pastor Philip Samuels of mismanagement of funds totaling more than R35000.
"He (Samuels) has failed us and betrayed our trust in him as a man of God," Paul Mokoena, general secretary of the church council, said.
Mokoena showed Sowetan a bank statement indicating that Samuels had allegedly used church funds for his personal benefit.
The statement reflects transactions of the church's debit card that include purchase of flowers, tyres, lunch in fancy restaurants and hotels.
The congregants also allege that an amount of R22000 went missing from the church's building fund.
"We spoke to the pastor in February and he confessed to mismanagement and said he would pay back the money but nothing happened," said Mokoena.
He said the matter was also reported to the church's head office.
"We are not happy with the decision of head office. We want the pastor to be relocated," Mokoena said.
Sowetan has a copy of the report in which the head office said it was irregular and unconstitutional for the pastor:
l to do the banking;
l to pay by electronic transfer or otherwise, and
l to write up the income statement of the church.
But the report further stated that the absence of vouchers to support transactions was noted, but that the assembly had not been defrauded.
The head office said there were no grounds to institute disciplinary action against Samuels.
"I have been cleared by head office," Samuels said.
"It is not the entire congregation that is doing this but a few members," he said.
"I can resign from the local assembly," Samuels said when told that the congregation would not change its position any time soon.
"I was going to sit down and resolve irregularities yesterday but I found them protesting," Samuels said.
But the congregation says there will be no Sunday service until Samuels is removed from the church.