Home News Bricks fly as churches fight over land

Bricks fly as churches fight over land

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"Structures that were constructed without proper steps being followed must be demolished"

File image. Picture: Pixabay

ALL HELL has broken loose, with bricks flying wildly following a dispute between two churches over land in Colville.

The property, situated at the corner of St Paul’s and Flower streets in Colville, is the crux of a dispute between the Pentecostal Christian Mission and the Kingdom Worth Ministries.

The Pentecostal Christian Mission obtained a court order, on an unopposed basis, in the Northern Cape High Court in 2016 to prevent Kingdom Worth Ministries or the pastor of the church, Desmond Smith, from utilising the property or building a structure on the grounds for the purpose of conducting church sermons and/or delivering services.

According to court papers regarding the background of the saga, in 2008 the Pentecostal Christian Mission Church entered a lease agreement with the Sol Plaatje Municipality for the ground. According to the terms of the agreement, the applicant had to fence off the property within three months, submit building plans within six months and that construction of a church structure had to commence within six months of approval of the building plans.

The terms of the lease agreement were not complied with and three of the pastors broke away and decided to conduct services elsewhere.

According to Kingdom Worth Ministries, they were not served with the papers for the court order in time and had they been aware of the application, they would have opposed it.

The grounds for opposition was that they had been in possession of the property for a number of years and, without the assistance of the Pentecostal Christian Mission Church, they had almost completed the construction of the church.

The original court order was rescinded in November 2018 by Judge Cecile Williams and judgment in the matter was reserved.

A month later, in December last year, Acting Judge Coetzee ruled that the interdict against Smith and Kingdom Worth Ministry Church, preventing them from utilising or entering the property, be made an order.

Sarel Louw, from the Pentecostal Christian Mission, said yesterday that the Kingdom Worth Ministries had refused to vacate the property according to the court order.

“Because of the court order, which states that it is our property, we wanted to complete the construction of the structure (which Kingdom Worth Ministries had previously started) and approached the Sol Plaatje Municipality for the building plans.”

According to Louw, the building plans could not be found and the municipality sent out engineers to inspect the buildings.

“According to the engineers, the structure is unsafe and we were instructed to pay a penalty of R18 000. The municipality could also not find any building plans for the structure.”

The church then appointed Moyahi and Associations to conduct a structural engineering condition assessment on the partially completed buildings on the site to either confirm their structural integrity or address the issues that required correction in order to comply with municipal by-laws.

The report on the incomplete structures, which was done in February this year, states that no engineering drawings were done for the building and that there were no records of inspections. Soil investigations were also not done.

“The structures that were constructed without the proper steps being followed must be demolished,” the report states. “Geotechnical investigations must be conducted and proper engineering drawings must be prepared for construction. Approval of drawings must be obtained from the municipality before any work commences on site and a fire rational design must be done for the church building.”

Louw said that following discussions with the municipality, it was decided to demolish the structure erected by the Kingdom Worth Ministry and start building from scratch.

Scuffle

When members of the Pentecostal Christian Mission arrived on the premises last week and started dismantling the structure, a scuffle broke out between members of the two churches.

According to Louw, a person who was on the top of the structure was ordered to jump down, and was allegedly assaulted.

“Members of the Kingdom Worth Ministry also started protesting and burning tyres,” Louw said.

He added that the police arrived on the scene and attempted to restore order.

Meanwhile, in his affidavit, which was handed into court when the matter was originally heard, Desmond Smith explained that the Pentecostal Christian Ministry had previously hired the ground from the Sol Plaatje Municipality.

In 2006 all the pastors, except for Smith, left the church and held services elsewhere. “The community remained behind while three pastors, who kept the name of Pentecostal Christian Mission, left the church.”

According to Smith, the main reason why they left the church was that they were not able to comply with the municipal requirements, namely that they had to develop the ground.

The community accepted that the pastors were not coming back and agreed to an official separation in 2013, and the name of the church was changed to Kingdom Worth Ministries.

The church approached the municipality to transfer the ground under its name. At the time there was only a shanty on the premises and it was not fenced.

Smith stated that the municipality was prepared to give the land to the church on the condition that it was developed.

In December 2013, the community started erecting the fence and laying the foundation. Services were held under the name of Kingdom Worth Ministries.

“We cannot believe that the applicant obtained a court order in September 2016, while we have held services there from 2006 under the name of the Kingdom Worth Ministries.

“The applicant wants to remove us from the premises after we started developing. We have erected a fence and the building is already roof high. The applicant has done nothing to develop the property and just wants to take over our hard work.”

According to Smith, the church has 110 members. “We, as a new church, have done all the improvements.”