Anglican church priest assaults parishioner


Winterton Zimunya sustained a deep cut above the right eye after the attack with what he said was a small knobkerrie.

When The Herald visited the cathedral, police were dispersing people aligned to Bishop Chad Gandiya’s Church of the Province of Central Africa.

The worshippers said the priest who carried out the alleged assault was aligned to Bishop Nolbert Kunonga’s independent Anglican Church.

The church split in 2007 when Bishop Kunonga and his followers refused to accept the pro-homosexual stance they said the traditional Anglican community was supporting.

The disturbances started when Bishop Kunonga’s followers arrived at the premises saying they had a court edict barring Bishop Gandiya’s followers from using the cathedral premises.

Zimunya told New Ziana: “People were refusing to vacate the premises before being shown the directive from the responsible authorities when priests from the other faction threw a table towards people standing at the entrance.”

Zimunya said as police were trying to restore order, the unidentified priest struck him with a small knobkerrie.

Police could be seen pushing the rival parishioners and trying to separate and restrain them.

Some of Bishop Gandiya’s followers then started singing derogatory songs attacking Bishop Kunonga.

Yesterday, the two sides blamed each other for the violence.

Reverend Phineas Fundira, who is aligned to Bishop Gandiya, said: “I was giving the Holy Communion to people when I saw police and some priest from the Kunonga faction entering the church before ordering me to stop the service.

“I requested for court documents barring me from carrying out the service but they did not produce any.

“These people should just stop bringing politics into the church and concentrate on the core business.”

Reverend Admire Sango, who is aligned to Bishop Kunonga, yesterday laid the blame squarely on Bishop Gandiya’s followers.

“All these squabbles are being caused by the other side who are refusing to follow a court order barring them from using our church premises.”

Another priest, who refused to be identified, added: “We are following a High Court ruling that recognised Dr Kunonga as the bishop responsible for the church’s property.

“We have said and we will continue to say that we cannot have two church services. These people should just join us or we will not allow them to use our church buildings.”

Police spokespersons could not be reached for comment at the time of writing as their cellphones went unanswered.

Judge President Justice Rita Makarau last year ruled that the two sides should use the church facilities alternately pending resolution of the dispute.

Co-Home Affairs Ministers Kembo Mohadi and Giles Mutsekwa once summoned both sides and ordered them to peacefully co-exist.