After a long court battle, the Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central Africa Presbytery (CCAP) yesterday afforded the broadest smile after the Supreme Court finally threw out an appeal by a breakaway faction in a case they were fighting over church premise and property.
This is a case in which Reverend Chimwemwe Mhango of then Kanengo CCAP, after breaking away from Livingstonia Synod, refused to surrender all properties of the Synod, including the church building, a development that forced the synod to sue him.
In December 2015, the High Court in Lilongwe ruled in favour of the synod and ordered the rebellious congregation to vacate the church premises and handover all properties to the Synod including bank accounts but Mhango appealed against the ruling.
However, a three-judge panel of the Supreme Court in Blantyre yesterday dismissed the breakaway appeal and condemned the appellants to pay the costs besides ordering them back all the property to the synod and vacate the premises.
In their determination, the three justices said the synod also succeeded in the cross appeal where it took an issue with the High Court when it said those who detached themselves from it but want a share of the property have to lodge the matter with the synod.
“In sum, the appeal is dismissed with costs. It is recorded that the respondents, Livingstonia Synod of CCAP, has effectively succeeded in defending this appeal,” read the ruling delivered by Justice Frank Kapanda on behalf of Justices Anaclet Chipeta and Jane Ansah.
The court then declared that the members who seceded out of Kanengo CCAP Church were not entitled to move with the property which had been intended for the church.
Mhango, a renowned gospel musician and president of the Musicians Union on Malawi (MUM), was ordained in April, 1994 and served as a CCAP minister for various congregations.
However, he broke away from the Synod in April 2015 following his suspension after he refused to be transferred to Euthini in Mzimba. n