EMBATTLED Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) of Africa president reverend Tony Tshuma has been dragged to the Bulawayo High Court by a rival over allegations of personalising and looting church assets.
Reverend Clement Nyathi filed his application on August 15 seeking an urgent interdict barring Tshuma from disposing of church properties and personalising them. Tshuma is cited as the only respondent in the case.
The application was heard by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese. In his founding affidavit, Nyathi submitted that AFM had internal problems and claimed that Tshuma broke away from the church declaring himself as president and overseer for the breakaway group.
“These problems had been on-going for over six years now which led to the respondent filing a court application before this court, case number HC540/14, so that this court could declare him dully appointed head of AFM,” Nyathi submitted.
“After realising that respondent (Tshuma) and his group wanted to behave as if they were the rightful group representing the church, the applicants filed a court application.”
Nyathi said Tshuma and his team had been disposing of church assets and transferring other church properties into different names so that by the time the court makes a determination on the status of the church leadership, he would have hidden a lot of properties.
“On August 10 2014 the respondents sold eight beasts from the church farm so that he could fund his group’s church camp meeting,” Nyathi submitted.
“This comes after he sold some other six beasts in July this year to fund his personal needs. The respondent is also attempting to register church vehicles which are under his custody into his individual names and into his wife’s names so that they appear as if they are personal vehicles.”
Nyathi said Tshuma was barring him and others from conducting services at the church situated at number 70473 Indonsakusa and Nyambezana roads in Lobengula Extension 4 in Bulawayo, the church headquarters.
He said Tshuma claimed the church was headquartered on his personal property yet it belonged to the church.
“Because of the ongoing church problems, it is prudent that the church’s properties be kept at a place of safety under the custody of second applicant (Nyathi) until the matters are finalised.
“If this order is not granted by the time matters before this court are finalised, all church properties would have been disposed of or dilapidated into valueless assets. This is the reason why the applicants have approached this court on an urgent basis.
“We wrote a letter to the respondent on August 8, but from that date onwards, the respondent actually accelerated the disposal of the church assets and has started harassing church members so that they do not challenge him.”
Justice Makonese ordered both the group led by Nyathi and Tshuma from using and disposing of the said properties or transferring them into other names.
“The applicants (Nyathi and AFM) and respondent (Tshuma) are barred from using and disposing the first applicant (church) property or transferring them to any form or manner whatsoever pending the finalisation of the matters pending in this honourable court,” ruled Justice Makonese.