SW Radio Africa (London)

3 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Gandiya Church Officials Arrested After 'Unlawful' Sunday Service

Three officials aligned to the Anglican Church under Bishop Chad Gandiya's leadership, were arrested on Sunday after a morning service in their Manicaland church.

The three church members, including the Pastor, church warden and church treasurer, were all arrested at the Bonda Mission Church following a packed Sunday service.

The three were taken to Mutasa police station and charged for illegally entering the property, which was recently handed back to Gandiya's church after being seized by the ousted Nolbert Kunonga.

Last week the Supreme Court ordered Kunonga to hand over all church properties in his possession, ending a five-year feud that began when Kunonga pulled out of the Church Province of Central Africa (CPCA). He formed his own church, the Church Province of Zimbabwe, but held on to the CPCA properties.

Kunonga has since filed a court injunction to stop the eviction of his followers who have been occupying the properties he illegally seized, and a decision is expected in the High Court on Tuesday.

Kumbirai Mafunda from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) told SW Radio Africa on Monday that the arrest of the Bonda Mission church members is linked to the ongoing fight with Kunonga. Mafunda explained that the three church leaders were held overnight at Mutasa police station before being brought before a magistrate on Monday.

"The prosecutors decided not to go ahead with prosecution and they acknowledged that the police had erred in arresting the three. So they were finally released," Mafunda said.

He added: "We are worried by the deterioration of the rule of just law in Zimbabwe. We have seen how the Kunonga faction has defied court orders for years. It seems to be in their DNA. But it is part of a wider problem where the situation continues to deteriorate in Zimbabwe."

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