An attorney representing Zion Christian Church (ZCC) leader, Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane, this week told the Court of Appeal (CoA) that it did not have powers to hear his case.
The Pretoria based Attorney, Soraya Hassim, told the CoA in Gaborone on Friday that courts in Botswana should not interfere with internal matters of the church and that it was not within the Botswana courts’ jurisdiction to try Lekganyane.
“This court does not have power to determine dispute and internal affairs of the church which are at the centre of this matter,” Hassim argued.
The ZCC case had returned to court today after Lekganyane had sought the CoA to change a ruling by Lobatse High Court judge, Justice Nthomiwa, that he should not hold disciplinary hearing against some of the churche’s local members.
Nthomiwa had made the ruling hat Lekganyane should not proceed with discipnary hearing of 17 members of the Tlokweng ZCC branch.
The 17 members were in trouble with Lekganyane after they challenged ‘the way things were done within the church.”
For his part, Attorney Uyapo Ndadi- who was representing the aggrieved 17 members, argued that it was infact within the Botswana law to try the Bishop as the church was registered in Botswana.
He submitted that the ZCC constitution of 2009 created an office for the Bishop and that “for purposes of compliance with the Botswana laws, Section 5 states that the church shall have a registered office which shall for all purposes and intents, serve the church’s purpose in Botswana.”
Ndadi further argued that Lekganyane was being sued not in his personal capacity but in his official capacity as the leader of the ZCC “who shall hold office for life.”
“He may not be in Botswana physically but he is still the leader of the church, and he has been cited in his official capacity,” Ndadi argued.