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Three die in church wrangles

10 August 2015, 10:14 Dareel Eric

Vihiga - Three people died and 11 others seriously injured when worshipers at the African Israel Nineveh Church turned against each other in wrangles spearheaded by a family dispute that has plagued the church for the past several years.

The house belonging to the church’s Archbishop, John Mweresa Kivuli II was reduced to ashes and property worth of thousands of shillings destroyed in the process.

Mweresa, who was not present during the fracas, had gone for another assignment at an undisclosed place, according to church members.

While recounting the horror that fell upon them on worship Sunday, Archbishop Meshack Angoya Osumu who is in charge of Tanzania, said that he could not tell what befell the church on the fateful day.

“We were in the Archbishop’s house while praying when all of a sudden, a fracas ensued and we saw fellows breaking the gate and fence and they came to torch the house,” said Osumu.

Among those who were seriously injured include Archbishop Mweresa’s wife Gladys, who is recuperating at the Vihiga Hospital.

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Vihiga County commissioner, Boaz Cherutich who was at the scene together with other security personnel, identified two of those killed as Zebedayo Madegwa and Isaack Onyango.   

According to witnesses, 10 people were praying  in Mweresa’s house when the gang locked them in the house and set it on fire.

Bishop Luke Soita of Muhanda church in Kabras, Kakamega County, who was at Mweresa’s home during the incident, said that he did not even understand what the rebel group used to burn the house.

“We heard the noise as the group approached and some of us who were at the compound had to run away for our safety,” said Soita.

Soita noted that a splinter group led by Bishop Evans Chadiva had come to take over the church from Mweresa but could not because Mweresa had not given consent.

Archbishop Mweresa took over the church in 1983, and there have been consistent wrangles led by his mother Saphinah Mweresa, who is after his ouster.

“The burning of the archbishop’s house was to make sure that all documents pertaining to the church had been destroyed so that the splinter group can take over power without going into many details,” Soita said.

But according to other members of the opposing faction in the church, Mweresa hired goons from Kisumu who kept vigil at his home, and when the other faction came to the church to take over power, they attacked them.

“The hooligans who were armed with stones attacked the members of the splinter group and unfortunately, they were overpowered and the members broke into the church and home, destroying property,” a member said.

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