October 20, 2012 2 Comments
George Conger reports:
The Bishop of Pretoria, the Rt. Rev. Johannes Seoka, had been exonerated by an investigatory committee of misconduct. The task force convened by the Anglican Church of Southern Africa found there was no truth in charges brought by members of the chapter of the Cathedral of St Alban the Martyr the bishop had stolen R500,000 of Diocesan Trust funds.
“The task team’s report states clearly that allegations that the Bishop of Pretoria, Dr Jo Seoka, had acted improperly regarding a loan for housing are groundless, Archbishop Thabo Makgoba reported. “The bishops call upon those making these unfounded allegations to desist.”
In June, the church initiated an investigation into the charges and convened a task force of the House of Bishops charged under Canon 21.3 with investigating the claims. The initiating of an investigation was not an indication of guilt or a finding of a prima facie case of misconduct, but is the proper canonical response to allegations of misconduct, a South African bishop said.
Bishop Seoka had protested his innocence from the start, telling The Church of England Newspaper the charges of theft were “ridiculous”.
In a statement released at the close of the 23-26 September 2012 meeting of the House of bishops in Pretoria, the bishops said they had received reports on “the internal crises affecting the life of the people of God in our dioceses (most notably those in the Cathedral of Pretoria and the Diocese of Umzimvubu).”
The bishops said they also discussed the “formation and training of new bishops, and ways in which we could better guide and mentor those experiencing difficulties within their dioceses.”
Sources in the South African church report that in private session the bishops received private briefings on the situation in the Dioceses of Umzimvubu and Pretoria. At the close of their February 2012 meeting, the bishops said that at the invitation of the Bishop of Umzimvubu, the Rt. Rev. Mlibo Ngewu “we dealt at length with the complicated issues presently affecting his Diocese. After extensive discussions, we unanimously resolved the diocese should be placed under the care of a provincial administrative team.”
Elected in 2003, Bishop Ngewu has been charged by his clergy with simony, nepotism, embezzlement, fraud, sexual harassment and bullying. In August 2011 two-thirds of the diocesan clergy had written to the Archbishop of Cape Town requesting his intervention.
The provincial administrative team overseeing Umzimvubu gave their first report to the House of Bishops at last week’s meeting. While its contents have not been made public, sources tell CEN the investigations continue.