Man sues ZCC for kicking him out


HE ISN’T the kind of guy to back away from a fight – he’s been waging battles with authorities of one kind or another since he was a student and will always stand up for what he believes is right.

But the war he’s embroiled in now gives new meaning to the proverbial David vs Goliath struggle – because Mphafolane Koma is taking on one the biggest churches in Southern Africa. And if he succeeds in his court battle he will make history as the first “fired” member of the congregation to successfully sue the mighty Zion Christian Church in its entire 100-year history.

The 37-year-old Pretoria advocate claims he has twice been illegally detained by ZCC men and has now been booted out of the 12-million-member church. He is suing the church for “unfair dismissal”, he says, and if he wins that motion he is threatening to follow it up with a defamation charge.

“They have defamed me,” he says adamantly. “In fact, they defame me every week. Congregants are told again and again that I am a devil. And that is defamatory.”

According to Mphafolane, he was banned from the church because he tried to expose alleged brutality and human rights violations at the church’s headquarters in Moria, Limpopo. The ZCC has refused to comment, saying the matter is sub judice. “The church will defend itself in court,” says ZCC secretary Ephraim Mafetsa.

Yet Mphafolane says the church’s position is clear: a statement explaining why he was excommunicated is read every Sunday in all ZCC branches across the region, saying he was expelled because he is “an evil man” who wants to destroy the church.

He says he’s been warned by priests and congregation members that he is fighting outside his division. But Mphafolane isn’t put off. He enjoys a good fight, he says.

SITTING in the DRUM office car outside Menlyn shopping centre in Pretoria, I ask him if he fears for his safety. “I’m not afraid. There is no one who is going to make me cower. I’m my own man,” he says.

Dressed in a black Giorgio Armani suit, white shirt and black snakeskin shoes, he arrived at the mall with a swagger, looking invincible. Then he suggested we talk in his or DRUM’s car. We were thinking along the lines of coffee and a sandwich at a café, but we’re journalists: nothing if not adaptable.

So, squeezed into our cramped skoroskoro, he tells us what’s been going on. The latest incident happened on Sunday, 5 September, he begins. He was about to exit Moria’s main entrance after the service when he was stopped by “more than 10 security guards” who accused him of cutting chains used to demarcate parking bays for VIPs. It’s a charge he vehemently denies – and besides, he adds, the guards didn’t find any cutter when they searched his car. “I was arrested but as they were taking me to the detention centre inside Moria I asked if I could go to my car and get something warm to wear. I got inside and locked all the doors,’’ he recalls.

Read the full article in DRUM of 14 October 2010

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