Court relief for church members

Court relief for church members

MASERU  – THE Court of Appeal gave members of the Zion Apostolic Church a temporary sigh of relief when it stopped their eviction from a piece of land in Motimposo.
They were about to be kicked off the land by ’Mamotlakase Morakabi, who has always maintained she owns the site.
Morakabi belongs to the Pillar of Fire Church which used to have its tent at the site.
She argues that her church also has rights to the land.

In 2017 she acquired a default judgment in the High Court ordering the Zion Apostolic Church to leave the land.
The Court of Appeal last week ordered Morakabi not to sell the land until the High Court retried the case.
This was after members of the Zion Apostolic Faith Mission, the church founded by the late Archbishop Lion, applied for a stay of execution in the Court of Appeal.

The members reasoned, among others, that the High Court failed to follow Land Court Rules of 2012 against Morakabi and Pillar of Fire Ministries.
The Acting Justice of Appeal Philip Musonda said the appeal was successful and the order of the court which was granted on December 5, 2017, was set aside.

He further ordered that the counter application filed by the respondents on July 10, 2017 was dismissed and Morakabi was directed not to dispose her rights in the site pending the finalisation of this matter.
“The matter was remitted to the court for the determination of the application filed by the (Archbishop Lion church members) on November 27, 2017 in terms of the Land Court rules,” Justice Musonda said.
This case is part of a wrangle that started in 1983.

After the death of founder, Archbishop Solomon Lion, two of his wives and a church member filed an application in the High Court seeking an order to interdict another wife and some members from accessing the premises.
Caswell Nyamathe and the two wives, Elizabeth Lion and ’Maleruo Lion, asked the court to interdict Isaac Mokoena, Paulina Kou, Mojalefa Ramotšo, Simon Tlapana, another wife ’Matšepo Lion and Maria Ramotšo from entering the site.
The Archbishop’s son, David Lion, also claimed to be an heir to the estate, leaving the church torn into factions.
After hearing arguments and going through piles of evidence by the various claimants, Justice Molai in 1992 ruled that the site could no longer be regarded as personal property of the late Archbishop.

Rather, the property now belonged to the Zion Apostolic Faith Mission church, the judge ruled.
Now, 27 years later, the ownership wrangle still rages on, threatening to spill into violence.
The fight was reignited after ’Mamotlakase Morakabi claimed the property, according to the church members who have been living in the church houses for the past five decades

Morakabi’s lawyer, Advocate Phororo claimed that one of the Archbishop’s wives, ’Matšepiso Lion who stood with the church to win the first case against the other wives, transferred the title deeds to Morakabi.
Phororo said after living on the premises for 17 years, Morakabi decided to build a house on the site.
The church challenged the move and lost, said the lawyer.

He said the church was aware of ’Matšepiso Lion’s transfer of the property’s ownership to Morakabi.
Phororo said Matšepiso Lion had a lease for the premises which superseded the church’s own lease.
Phororo said the church even tried to sue ’Matšepiso but the application was dismissed.
Morakabi obtained a default judgement in the High Court for the cancellation of the church’s lease.
It is not clear why the church was not represented in court.

The church applied for rescission but the court dismissed the application.
It applied for stay of execution while it approaches the Court of Appeal but the High Court still dismissed its application.
Morakabi is pushing for the execution of the judgment giving her ownership of the property.
A 91-year-old church member, ’Mamoeletsi Moorosi, said she has been living at the church since 1965 when the Principal Chief, then Letsie Theko, allocated the land to Archbishop Solomon Lion.
“This site has always belonged to the church and only the church has the Form C and the title deeds,” she said.

Itumeleng Khoete


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