Church begins Bishop Taaso inquiry  



Bishop Adam Mallane  Taaso
Bishop Adam Mallane Taaso

Billy Ntaote

A four-member panel on Monday conducted preliminary hearings into allegations of corruption, misuse of church funds, dabbling in active party politics and ill-treatment of church members  levelled against Anglican Church of Lesotho (ACL) leader Bishop Mallane Adam Taaso.

The panel was chaired by Bishop Nkosinati Ndwandwe of KwaZulu-Natal, and also comprised Bishop Dintoe Lentloenyana of the Free State Diocese, Registrar of the Diocese of Christ the King Advocate Manaka and Registrar of the Diocese of the Free State Advocate Johnson.

The inquiry was held at the Cathedral of St Mary and St James in Maseru and followed complaints made by six ACL priests to the Archbishop of Cape Town and Metropolitan of the Anglican Church in Southern Africa, the Most Reverend Thabo Makgoba.

The priests, namely Reverend Maieane Khaketla, Rev Maseru Mongalo, Rev Sello Moshoeshoe, Rev Palo Mphethi, Rev Samuel Monyamane and Rev Molemo Baatjies, were among the people interviewed by the Board on Monday.

ACL Chancellor, Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi told the Lesotho Times that the inquiry sought to establish if there was “a prima facie case against the Bishop”.

“This preliminary inquiry paves the way for a deeper inquiry or tribunal to be held by the church if there is a case worth such a tribunal,” Justice Monaphathi said.

“Like I said, this preliminary inquiry is only intended for the complainants to state their case and the Bishop to respond to whatever accusations they may have against him.

“The Dean of the Cathedral Tanki Mofana can also be invited to appear before the inquiry and respond to certain questions but only if he is invited.”

Bishop Taaso would not comment on the issue on Monday while Rev Khaketla last week said they sent their complaints to Most Reverend Makgoba in December 2015.

“The 450-page document we compiled includes affidavits from the six of us and other employees of the diocese of Lesotho, and numerous financial statements,” Rev Khaketla said.

In their request for Archbishop Makgoba to establish a ‘Reconciliation Commission in the Diocese of Lesotho’, the six priests noted: “It is with great concern that we are writing this letter to humbly request your august office to urgently facilitate the establishment of a Reconciliation Commission for healing of memories, forgiveness and unity in the Diocese. Since His Lordship the Right Rev Bishop Mallane Taaso took over, the Diocese of Lesotho has experienced continuous unresolved conflicts which have resulted in deep-rooted division and exacerbated hatred.

“Instead of addressing issues to bring about pacific resolution of disputes, he always chooses to use belligerence and threats, including brute force. In his meetings with the clergy that he is at loggerheads with, he uses bellicose statements. The following points deserve profound consideration: Negative approach to conflicts forcing clergy to resort to court cases; cutting clergy’s stipends without consultation; breeding divisions among clergy; harassment of the Diocese’s staff and volunteers based on unfounded allegations; defamation of character of the clergy; denial of clergy natural justice (uncanonical suspension of clergy); nepotism; the Bishop’s alleged affiliation with a political party (tarnishing the church image); the Bishop’s threats to clergy; and the Bishop’s unreconciling attitude with the clergy he disagrees with.”

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