Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Lawrence Kamocha has nullified a decision by the Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) Church to censure a husband for reporting, one Pastor Brighton Ndebele to the police for indecently assaulting his wife. The abused’s husband who cannot be named to protect the wife’s identity was censured for 7 months by the church disciplinary committee, despite the fact that Pastor Ndebele was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 12 months in prison. Justice Komocha noted that the church had disregarded its own rules as well as rules of natural justice with impunity.
Said Justice Komocha:
The proceedings were also in flagrant disregard of the fundamental rights of the church members as enshrined in the church’s manual 2015 edition. The respondents (SDA’s Bulawayo City Centre branch and the church’s headquarters, South Zimbabwe Conference of the SDA Church) were aware or ought to have been aware of this eloquent rule of the church rule, but decided to breach it with impunity.
While the main matter between the parties was indeed acrimonious and emotional that cannot be a licence for the respondents to flout the rules of natural justice and rules of their own church.
When a party blatantly conducts an unfair hearing whose outcome the party knows will adversely affect the other party, such party lacks bona fides and I conclude that the hearing would have been done with malice. The court shows disapproval of such conduct by the respondents and applicant must be compensated the costs that he incurred
…The proceedings and decision of the first respondent to ensure applicant to a period of seven months within which he cannot participate in the affairs of the church either by vote or voice are both declared null and void and not binding on the applicant.