The factional disputes within the Dutch Reformed Church (DRC) of both Bokaa and Mochudi are causing concern over compromising the safety of its members, raising the possibility that the Church might be closed down for sometime while a solution is being sort.
The issue is now reported to be before the Register of Societies, who are alleged to have summoned Church elders recently to discuss the explosive matter.
The church is said to be under great duress as the factions within the church continue to pull in different directions even after mediation efforts were carried out.
A lady priest, Kgosiemang Mmoniemang, as well as an administrator are said to have handed in their resignations.
It is said that Eskiah Mooketsi, the Administrator, is already on his way out.
In Bokaa, it has even reached the extent where the corpse of a woman, whose name is known to the Sunday Standard, could not be afforded a proper burial ceremony because it was held by a faction she didn’t belong to.
It is reported that in her will, the woman had requested that her burial ceremony be handled by a Reverend Moses Bogatsu, who is currently a member of the church synod.
But by the time the woman died, the reverend had allegedly been suspended from church service for undisclosed reasons.
According to Ronnie Maabong, who claims to be the deceased’s son, the family had removed the deceased from the morgue and had decided to take her to the church for the ceremony.
Upon their arrival, they were met by church members from a faction that was against the reverend in question and they were turned away after being told that the reverend had been suspended.
“I didn’t like the way my mother was buried and it still hurts to this day,” said Maabong. “Since she was devoted to that church, they shouldn’t have tried to solve their church problems at my mother’s grave.”
Asked to comment, Bogatsu said, “I am not mandated to say anything outside the authority of the church senate.”
According to Acting Chief for Bokaa, Kgosi Mokwena Mosinyi, the chieftaincy had received word of the goings-on.
“A corpse was the center of conflict after it was turned away; I have seen many things but none such as this. People were instructed to refrain from touching the corpse,” said Mosinyi.
He told the Sunday Standard that he had been approached by the younger members of the DRC church in Bokaa, who claimed that their church was in a state of chaos.
“They came to seek my advice about the matter whilst I was at my home, although they wouldn’t say what exactly they were fighting for, so I advised them to talk to church leaders,” said Mosinyi.
Mosinyi lamented that the complainants then further revealed that the faction they were up against did not respect the church elders.
“Sometime later I was approached by elderly members from the church who had come to assure me that the matter would be taken care of,” said Mosinyi.
On allegations that the fights had deepened to the extent where physical fights were once involved and the police had to be called to control the situation, Mosinyi said that they (chieftaincy) had heard about it but cannot confirm whether that happened or not since the case hadn’t been brought to their attention.
However, the acting chief disclosed that it wasn’t surprising to see the feuds that were being played out within the Bokaa DRC because, according to him, the crisis started at the Mochudi branches.
According to the Chief, it was said that the factions were divided between Bogatsu and Mmoniemang.
“This was during the time when the church was divided into factions because some members were protesting the presence of a woman priest and vouched instead for Bogatsu; it was around this time that the church accused Kgosi Linchwe of involving himself in church business. After these accusations, the Bogosi in Mochudi let them do as they wished because it was obvious they disrespected the chieftaincy,” said Mosinyi.
The Bokaa division is also said to be holding two Sunday services, the first at 8am and the last at 10am, even though they are both conducted in the same exact manner.
Some members of the church have apparently not been attending church services due to the infightings.
Meanwhile back in Mochudi, it has been said that the woman priest, Mmoniemang, finally decided to throw in the towel two weeks ago due to the pressure from the church feuds.
When approached for comment, Mmoniemang said she was not in a position to neither confirm nor deny her alleged resignation.
Sunday Standard then asked Bogatsu from Mochudi to comment on the affairs surrounding these allegations to which he replied, “I am not aware that Moruti Monniemang has resigned.”
In his capacity as president of the Botswana Council of Churches (BCC), Mpho Moruakgomo was approached by this paper to comment on whether they as BCC had ever received a letter of complaint regarding any matters that were going on in the DRC.
“Whether I have received a complaint or not, I cannot make a comment on any particular church,” said Moruakgomo.
According to Moruakgomo, the BCC sometimes receives issues of challenges arising within particular churches and it is their job to try and come up with a solution.
“We already have a number of processes we have put in place as methods of conflict resolutions within churches.