Death threats prove too much for Pretoria church

Johannesburg - The Anglican cathedral parish of St Albans in Pretoria has closed its doors because of death threats, confrontations, disruptions and allegations of corruption against its bishop, according to a report on Saturday.

One priest who feared for his life had already resigned, the Saturday Star reported.

The church leadership under Bishop Johannes Seoka wrote to parishioners informing them of the closure and suspension of all forms of worship with immediate effect on Thursday.

“Unfortunately the action will affect all those whose intention it is to disrupt the cathedral worship and the innocent ones,” the church was quoted as saying.

On Friday, members of the cathedral vowed to fight the closure and urged parishioners to come and worship outside the premises.

According to the report members were also consulting with lawyers to seek an urgent court order to force Seoka to reopen the church gates before Sunday.

The bishop, who is also the president of the SA Council of Churches, was accused by church members of misappropriation of cathedral funds, dishonesty, breach of trust, corruption and fraud.

The accusations were contained in a letter signed by two priests, two church wardens and a parish councillor and sent to Anglican Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, the newspaper reported.

They alleged that Seoka had used R500,000 of the Diocese of Pretoria to pay for a mortgage bond for him and his wife. They also claimed that Seoka had misappropriated R162,000 to be used to fund legal representation against a church dean.

Seoka said the allegations had nothing to do with the closure. - Sapa