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By Daniel Nemukuyu
Apostolic Faith Mission Church of Zimbabwe and its pastor for the Mutoko assembly have been slapped with a $15 000 defamation suit by one of its members.
Pastor Tungamirai Mafukidze allegedly asked Mrs Perseverance Chitsva to stand up during a church service and publicly condemned her for infidelity.
Mrs Chitsva, who is a police officer, claims she was embarrassed in the presence of her husband, her 19-year-old daughter and the whole congregation.
To that end, Ms Chitsva has approached the High Court claiming damages amounting to $15 000 plus interest.
She cited Pastor Mafukidze and the church as defendants.
According to the plaintiff’s declaration, the unfortunate incident occurred on April 22 this year during a church service in Mutoko.
Pastor Mafukidze allegedly asked Ms Chitsva and her husband to stand up and the couple complied.
“The first defendant went further to cause the plaintiff’s daughter (19) who was also among the congregants to stand up.”
When the daughter stood up, it is alleged that the pastor blasted Ms Chitsva for disrespecting her daughter through infidelity.
Ms Chitsva denies the infidelity accusations, adding that the pastor had tarnished her image through lies.
She stated that she was still married to her husband and that if anything, the pastor should be blamed if the union breaks down.
“The allegations or announcement is malicious and baseless,” she said. “There are no divorce proceedings pending before any court. The first defendant may be a marriage officer but he has no jurisdiction to terminate or grant divorce as he did.
“No other meaning can possibly be imputed to the words because he expressly said ‘these two are no longer husband and wife’.”
Ms Chitsva said the reckless announcement injured her character before the congregation and her family members.
Being a law enforcement agent, Ms Chitsva argued that the utterances were highly defamatory to her.
She argued that her chances of being promoted in the Police Service may be reduced due to the pastor’s utterances.
“The words uttered injured the plaintiff’s standing and reputation as a police officer and a wife,” reads the declaration.
“The utterances further strained the possibility of reconciliation between plaintiff and her husband. The plaintiff was embarrassed and humiliated as the words uttered tarnished her credibility with other congregants, community at large as well as her employer (Ministry of Home Affairs). This will jeopardise her prospects for promotion.”
Ms Chitsva argued that she was now uncomfortable to attend church.
She now finds it difficult to interact with colleagues at work or even friends and relatives in the community.
Pastor Mafukidze and the church are yet to respond to the law suit.