Bishop accused of hiring hitmen walks free
Bushbuckridge - An evangelical bishop accused of hiring hitmen to kill a rival church leader has walked free - again.
Bishop Jafta Mabuza, 43, of the Apostolic Faith Assembly in Zion, which is based in Namakgale near Phalaborwa in Limpopo, was charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
The charges against Mabuza - who was accused of hiring hitmen for R10 000 to murder Bishop Daniel Mashele, who served the church's Rhulani village branch - were thrown out when he appeared in the Mhala magistrate’s court on Monday.
It turns out that he was mistakenly re-arrested on the same charges after he was acquitted for lack of evidence last year.
"The complainant brought new evidence to the court this year but the case could not be tried twice," explained Mpumalanga police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Hlathi told African Eye News Service (AENS) on Wednesday.
In March last year, the case was thrown out after the Mhala Magistrate's Court due to lack of evidence.
Mabuza was first arrested in July in 2009 after the suspected hitmen, who came from Gauteng and Bushbuckridge, approached police and told them they had been hired to kill Mashele because he was stealing members from Mabuza's church.
Mabuza was been given a brief reprieve in August 2009 when Magistrate Rodgers Ritshuri provisionally withdrew the case when members of the Mpumalanga police's Organised Crime Unit failed to submit the case docket to the court.
A month later he was summonsed back to court.
However, the case was again thrown out on March 25 2010 due to lack of evidence.
The rivalry between the two church leaders began with the death of Mabuza's father, Bishop Rexon Mabuza, who founded the church.
When Mashele wasn't appointed the new leader, he formed his own church, taking some of the congregation with him.
Mabuza told African Eye News Service that he was happy the matter was finally laid to rest.
"This matter painted a bad image of my family and my personal business. I am thankful to our church members for their support although this matter has also affected them as well,” Mabuza told AENS.
"I am happy I was again acquitted on the charges. This happened while we are mourning the death of my mother who passed on November 2."