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JERICHO CHURCH, ELANGENI RESIDENT IN LAND DISPUTE

MBABANE – A woman has alleged that some Jericho Church members from Elangeni insulted her while conducting a Sunday church service.

Irene Siphiwe Simelane made the allegations yesterday when she appeared before Mbabane Acting Senior Magistrate Thembela Simelane, following the ongoing land dispute. The parties in dispute were in court for a peace binding hearing. The conflict is as a result of a piece of land, which both parties are claiming ownership of. Siphiwe told the court that she did not want the Jericho Church to conduct their services within her compound because they damaged her fence and also carried dangerous weapons. “I am no longer at peace with the Jericho Church following the bad things they did to me. They damaged my fence. Also, they always come with dangerous weapons like slashers anytime they come to church, making me and my family live under threat. They also use a certain chemical to spray grass within my premises, which is dangerous to my livestock,” said Siphiwe.

Verdicts

She also told the court that various verdicts were issued, stopping the Jericho Church from using the structure within her compound, but they defied all of them. She then made a reference to an instance where Elangeni Inner Council issued a verdict forcing the congregants to go and build their church next to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. “The Jericho Church had defied orders from Elangeni Inner Council and King’s Liaison Officer and that is why they came back to conduct their services within the premises,” she said. Siphiwe stated that they were puzzled by the return of the church members last week, knowing very well that they were trespassing. She told the court that members of the Jericho Church had humiliated her. She said she had reported the matter to the police, but nothing had been done to date. “I am not happy that they are still using my piece of land, which was given to me by Prince Shozi in 1994. There was no Jericho Church in the area at that time,” said Siphiwe. The acting senior magistrate then asked the complainant whether the Jericho Church continued to damage her property, threatened and also insulted her after the previous orders had been issued. She said their coming back to the structure within her compound was a sign that they were still a threat to her.

Premises

“I am pleading with the court to stop the Jericho Church from using that structure because it is within my premises,” she said. Meanwhile, Scotch Magongo, the priest of the church, denied all the allegations levelled against them. He said they never, even on a single day, insulted the complainant nor threatened her. Instead, he alleged that Siphiwe and her children attacked the worshippers. “Siphiwe and her children destroyed the church pipe, water tap and broke the sticks holding the flags. She is the one who has destroyed our property,” said Magongo. Magongo further submitted that Siphiwe’s children always threw stones on top of the roof, while they were worshipping. He said if they were not called to order, they were going to damage the worshipers’ motor vehicles.

According to the man of the cloth, they had never had any conversation with Siphiwe since the day they received a verdict from Elangeni Inner Council at Ludzidzini Royal Council and king liaison officer. “Lomhlaba welibandla lemaJericho (the land belongs to the Jericho Church). We are not going to stop conducting our services in those premises because the inner council gave us the land. They are also aware of us conducting Sunday services there. Due to the conflict, we ended up reporting the matter to Ludzidzini,” said Magongo. According to the priest, they want the court to allow them to continue using the premises to conduct their services. He also pleaded with the court to have the kraal behind their church removed. The acting senior magistrate then told the Simelane family, as well as members of Elangeni Jericho Church to live at peace with each other while waiting for the dispute to be finalised under Eswatini Law and Customs. He said anyone defying the court order had the law to contend with.