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Pretoria - The Pretoria Anglican Church under the Marikana peacemaker Bishop Jo Seoka, is at the centre of fresh allegations of impropriety over the sale of Brits church premises.
Now parishioners from the defunct St Matthews Anglican Church in Brits, which was closed supposedly because it had “a small number of congregants”, say they were not informed that its building would be sold.
They went to court to prevent the sale but lost.
This week the parishioners and their priests were outraged after discovering that their church was sold to a private individual but the mortgage was funded by the Pretoria Diocesan Trustees under Seoka.
According to the Deeds records, the church building in Brits was bought by Alette du Plessis, owner of Lawwe Lyfies Crèche, for R800 000, and the bond valued at R700 000 for the sale is being held by the Pretoria Diocesan Trustees.
The records further show the repayment of the bond to the Trustees will be over a 10-year period with interest repayments totalling more than R386 000.
The former parishioners and a priest, who spoke to the Saturday Star but wished not to be named, said they were “outraged and cynical” as to why their church was sold so hastily when the congregants were opposed and not consulted on the sale.
“The property was never advertised on the open market but it was offered to the owner of the crèche who was at that stage renting the outbuildings,” said one parishioner. “We were uninformed about the sale. More surprising is that the Diocese gave a bond to a private individual with no links to the Anglican Church. We thought that this was the function of a financial institution.”
Another parishioner said it was outrageous that parishioners were chased out of the building and made to worship in parking lots and shopping centres while their premises were sold and then refinanced by the very same sellers.
“The person who signed the documents is the Diocesan Administrator under Bishop Jo. What is also strange is that the document of buying the property is initialled at the bottom by the former chairperson of the Diocesan Finance Board who resigned in February 2012,” he said, explaining that the Diocesan Trustees hold funds on behalf of parishes that are part of the Diocese of Pretoria under Seoka.
The sale of the church was finally concluded in December last year.
Last month Seoka’s lawyers issued letters of demand for the R52 000 legal costs incurred when the St Matthews Anglican Church congregants took him to court, but lost.
Last year the bishop, who was at the centre of wage negotiations between Lonmin management and striking Marikana miners, was accused by some in his diocese of the financial mismanagement of R500 000 of Diocesan Trust funds.
Parishioners had accused Seoka of unfairly dismissing Reverend Nkosinami Nkomonde, unfairly suspending Dean Livingstone Ngewu, who has since died, and being autocratic in his management style.
They also alleged impropriety on the part of the bishop in relation to funds held in trust for the cathedral parish.
However, after the ructions that split the diocese and St Alban’s Cathedral for more than a year the synod, led by Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, set up an investigation team to find out the “root causes of the discord”.
The Anglican Church investigation cleared Seoka of allegations of improperly obtaining a R500 000 loan for a mortgage using parish funds.
Seoka did not return calls and requests for comment on Friday on the sale of the St Matthews Church in Brits.