TWO churches linked to two of the five people being held by police in connection with the murder of 19-year-old Ruth Mbandu in Lusaka have been de-registered by the Registrar of Societies.
The Registrar of Societies de-registered Mount Zion Spiritual Church and the House of Joy Church International which currently have some of their members in police custody.
Ngulube and his driver, Stanley Munkonji, were currently in custody after being charged with Ruth's murder. Two other suspects from Kanyama were recently apprehended in connection with Ruth's cell phone which was traced to them.
The two churches have been de-registered alongside the Zambia National Marketeers Association (ZANAMA) and the Zambia Traders and Marketeers Association (ZATMA). Chief Registrar of Societies, Clement Andeleki announced the de-registration of the two churches and the two associations during a Press briefing in Lusaka yesterday.
"I have de-registered the House of Joy, holder of certificate no. ORS/102/66/5581 for non-payment of statutory fees and based on the allegation of criminal activities involving the murder of Ruth Mbandu. "I have also de-registered Mount Zion Spiritual Church based on the alleged criminal ritual activities and also believed to be involved in the same killing of Ruth," he said.
Mr Andeleki said the two churches should clear themselves of the allegations before they could be allowed to resume operations in Zambia. Later in the day, members of House of Joy Church International sought redress with Mr Andeleki during which they distanced themselves from the revelations that the church was involved in criminal acts and requested the Chief Registrar of Societies to reconsider his decision.
However, Mr Andeleki advised the church and the other societies that had been de-registered to seek redress through the courts of law. "We are also dismayed by the increased number of mushrooming churches, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and mosques that are operating illegally devoid of remitting statutory fees to my office as required by the law. "My office will not hesitate to de-register any erring society regardless of the size of such a society or objectives of the organisation," he said.
He said he had de-registered ZANAMA and ZATMA for pursuing objectives contrary to those that they had been registered for and pursuing activities contrary to public policy. It is believed that ZANAMA and ZATMA had been collecting daily revenue in markets resulting in councils failing to collect the money in accordance with the law.
ZANAMA is also believed to have been assisting a named political party in campaign activities contrary to its registration objectives.
He said the society was currently conducting a fo