THE Anglican Church of Southern Africa congregants watched helplessly on Friday as the headquarters of the Umzimvubu Diocese in Kokstad was reduced to a burnt-out structure by a mysterious fire.
Fire fighters couldn't stop the blazing fire which destroyed an old cathedral, the Glenthorne Dio- cesan Centre and houses on the premises.
The disaster prompted a visit by Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and Mthatha Bishop Sitembele Mzamane to the Umzimvubu Diocese on Monday.
Makgoba said he was in Swaziland when he heard what had happened.
“I was deeply saddened and disturbed when I heard what had happened in Umzimvubu Diocese. I decided I couldn't go back to Cape Town without coming to see the place. That which was built in love is now destroyed - we are handing over everything to God,” he said.
The fire comes at a time when a new diocesan council was appointed for Umzimvubu after Bishop Mlibo Ngewu was suspended following complaints to Makgoba about his leadership style.
“It's very sad that over R1 million has been spent in litigation because of the turmoil in the Umzimvubu diocese.
“I am sorry that the church of God had to go through this,” Makgoba said.
Mzamane, who now leads Umzimvubu Diocese as the archbishop's vicar general, said they would wait for a police report before claiming from insurance.
“We were at a meeting when we saw huge flames coming from some houses. Fortunately, no one was injured and everyone in the building was safely evacuated.
“This is a new start - it is the start of the resurrection of this diocese.
“The new council will treat everyone the same, everyone will be welcome, this is the beginning of an era of unity and peace,” Mzamane said of the new diocesan council.
Makgoba and Mzamane also performed a cleansing ceremony at the diocese in which incense was burnt and holy water sprinkled in all diocese offices on Main Street.