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Pastor axed for backing LGBTI community – claim

Publish date: 09 September 2019
Issue Number: 840
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Category: Litigation

An international church of roughly 3m members worldwide is embroiled in a contentious court war after a pastor was axed for allegedly fighting for gay rights, says a report in The Star. In the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg), Reverend Teboho Klaas – a pastor of the US-headquartered African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, based in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni – accused Bishop Paul Mulenga Kawimbe of an illegal campaign to remove him, allegedly because the bishop was homophobic. Klaas, who was initially suspended in October 2018 and fired last month, claimed in court papers that Kawimbe – who headed the more than 40 000-member strong 19th district of the AME – waged a concerted battle to get rid of him because of Klaas’ public support for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex community. Advocate Lesego Mmusi, who was arguing on Klaas’ behalf, told the court that AME’s leadership – as well as its judicial committee – flouted its own constitution in effecting his expulsion. Advocate JH van der Berg Lubbe, who was representing AME, Kawimbe and other church officials, conceded in court that the process to expel Klaas could have been flawed. However, Van der Berg Lubbe stressed that the court should rule that Klaas’ October 2018 suspension stand because it was ratified by AME’s highest judicial body in the US. He did not respond to the allegations of homophobia.

Full report in The Star