Sunday, July 29, 2007

Zimbabwe: Archbishop's Case - Court Furnished With Further Particulars of Claim

Roman Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube of Bulawayo, the head of the Church in Bulawayo facing a $20 billion lawsuit for alleged adultery, this week inched closer to a dramatic court battle.

Mr Munyaradzi Nzarayapenga, a lawyer representing Mr Onesimus Sibanda - the Bulawayo man suing Archbishop Ncube - on Thursday furnished the High Court with specific details pertaining to the allegations levelled against the archbishop.

This was in response to last Wednesday's formal request by the archbishop's lawyer, Advocate Nicholas Mathonsi, for further particulars of the claim.

Mr Sibanda is alleging that Archbishop Ncube was having an adulterous affair with his wife Rosemary.

The cleric has given notice of his intention to defend, which is usually done automatically by those sued. Even if the facts are admitted there is usually an argument over the scale of damages.

Advocate Mathonsi of Coghlan and Welsh Legal Practitioners had raised several queries pertaining to the allegations and had demanded specific details.

Among other issues, Archbishop Ncube's lawyers had wanted to know how it was alleged that the archbishop knew Rosemary was married and when the marriage was solemised in a Catholic church.

Mr Nzarayapenga said Mr and Mrs Sibanda were legally married on June 3 1988, and the marriage was blessed in Holy Sacrament of matrimony under the Roman Catholic Church by Fr Reason Mlilo at St Pius Catholic Church, Bulawayo, on July 21 2004.

He handed in copies of the civil and religious marriage certificates.

Advocate Mathonsi wanted to know how the alleged relationship between the archbishop and Mrs Sibanda was "malicious".

Mr Nzarayapenga replied this would be amplified by evidence at trial.

Advocate Mathonsi had also demanded to know: "What comfort and society did plaintiff previously enjoy with his wife?"

Mr Nzarayapenga responded: "It is the general, ordinary and special comfort and society, any legally married man enjoys within his marriage, the specifics of which are part of the evidence and cannot be supplied at this stage."

Advocate Mathonsi had also asked: "How is it alleged that plaintiff was allegedly seriously humiliated and how was his dignity impaired?"

Mr Nzarayapenga responded: "Not necessary as this is a question of evidence but in the normal manner in which any man in holy matrimony suffers when he becomes aware that his pastor is having a sexual relationship with his wife. The specifics are part of the evidence and will not be supplied at this stage."

Advocate Mathonsi had further asked: "Of what religion is the plaintiff, and how was his faith shaken?"

Mr Nzarayapenga replied: "Plaintiff is Roman Catholic, where he was taught and made to believe that it is sinful and immoral to commit adultery. He was also taught and made to believe that the archbishop is God's representative on earth and is, therefore, not only celibate, but holy and got the impression that he cannot commit adultery or any other sin or unlawful act. Obviously, when the Holy Shepherd became the first to violate all the teachings of the Church and swayed from the path of virtue, the plaintiff's faith as part of the sheep was shaken, his beliefs destroyed and the lifelong teachings rendered nugatory."

Advocate Mathonsi had also asked Mr Sibanda to clarify where exactly he is employed and how long he has been employed.

Mr Nzarayapenga answered: "Plaintiff is normally and permanently employed by Zimbabwe National Army based at Signals base workshops, 2 Brigade, Cranborne, Harare. Plaintiff has been attached to the National Railways of Zimbabwe from 10 June 2006 to date. Plaintiff has been employed by the Zimbabwe National Army from the 11 April 1978 to date."

The archbishop's lawyer also wanted Mr Sibanda to supply the court with facts regarding whether or not Mrs Sibanda has children and their birth certificates. The lawyer asked Mr Sibanda to provide specific details of the extent, dates, time and venue of the alleged adultery.

Mr Sibanda's lawyer replied: "The parties do not have children."

On the several other points, Mr Sibanda's lawyer flatly refused to furnish Archbishop Ncube's lawyer with the particulars requested, arguing that the specific details actually border on evidence and could only be made available during trial.

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