THE HIGH COURT OF LESOTHO
AT MASERU CIV/APN/158/2009
the matter between:
by the Honourable Mr. Justice T. E. Monapathi
day of May 2009
Applicant is husband of the Deceased. First Respondent is Deceaseds
father. Deceaseds body lies dead in the Second
have dealt with this matter since that day when I resolved that
there be viv-voce
evidence to be led by the parties concerning the disputed burial of
Applicants wife, amongst others. Except for a few delays
other things I ended up hearing the evidence of three (3) witnesses.
It is the evidence of Rev. Mabitle, Rev. Rantle and
all of the Methodist Church. The entitlement of the Rev. Rantle to
have solemnized Applicant and Deceaseds
marriage is the bone of
now known that this claim is also about the delivery of local
passport of the Deceased, the death certificate and mortuary
certificate. And that all the clothes of the Deceased also be
released to the Applicant, the Deceaseds husband. Again there
other prayers including the main prayer where the Applicant says he
must be allowed to bury the body of Matlou Lesaane, the
Applicants wife at the place of his choice and that the burial
house must release the body of the Deceased to this Applicant
Lesaane. There is also a prayer for costs. The Respondent is
Deceases father as aforesaid.
just have to remind ourselves that we had to substantially deal with
the aspect as to whether Rev. Rantle had the authority
the marriage between the Applicant and the Deceased. The Respondent
submitted that Rev. Rantle had no such authority
because he had been
removed from priesthood. Rev. Daniel Rantle;
of Religion of the Methodist Church of South Africa to be a marriage
officer for the solemnization of marriages within
Lesotho under the
as long as he is such minister.
a result of this enquiry we heard what one can call a very sad
history of a church in a war with itself. It is because there
dispute that at the time that this marriage was solemnized in 2006 at
the end of the year, there was something to do with,
on the surface,
a serious attempt to remove Rev. Rantle from his priesthood of the
Methodist Church of South Africa (MCSA) as the
papers show. Indeed
that exhibit MCSA1 of the 26th
July 2006 shows as much. It says:
Connexional Disciplinary Committee has upheld the sentence of the
District Disciplinary Committee that you be discontinued from
ministry of the MCSA with immediate effect.
the light of this decision I need to convey the following
instructions to you.
are to cease conducting worship services in any Methodist Society
with immediate effect.
are to vacate the MCSA manse at 160 Lancers Road, Maseru West, by 15August
hand over all Circuit Records and matters relating to the control of
finances to Bishop Bill Meaker immediately. He has
see to the election and appointment of new officials and Stewards for
the Maseru Circuit. These instructions have
been authorized by the
Presiding Bishop and endorsed by the Special Synod of the Lesotho
Circuit held at Mafeteng on Saturday 15
closing I would remind yuou of the following promises you made when
you were ordained. (Laws and Discipline paras 4.17.4-4.17.6).
I leave the Ministry of this Church for any reason, I will not
conduct another ministry in the circuit or area to which
I leave this church, I will not encourage any member or adherent
of the church to follow me.
I leave this church I will accept the decision of the Connexional
Executive or of the Presiding Bishop governing the
my service and my occupancy of church property.
it is quite loaded.
there is on the other hand, this aspect that Rev. Rantle seems to
have continued run a ministry since that November 2006,
and even after that time and apparently he continues to do. And as
admitted the church which Rev Lekitlane the
senior most priest speaks about and Rev. Rantle also speaks about
took no action since that day except for
that annexed letter.
Indeed, except that the letter was issued out, they both speak of no
other action except the existence
of the said letter.
say no step was taken regarding a very sensitive issue where Rev.
Rantle a priest holds himself out to be a priest of a church
the church says it has removed him. And in the circumstances I
asked myself what kind of a church is that MCSA, if it
has not seen
to it that Rev. Rantle be ousted from the church or that the court
be petitioned in order to ensure peace and stability
in the church.
now come to the important thing of the onus.
That is the weight of evidence that must be put in this court by
the Applicant in order to succeed in his claim on the issue.
on this issue whether Rev. Rantle was no longer a priest. On this
the Respondents bore the onus.
The question is whether or not they discharged it. We must remember
that in order for a priest or a person to solemnize marriages,
must be appointed by the Minister in accordance with section 7 (1)
and 14 of the Marriage
On the evidence before this court the Methodist Church has not
petitioned the Minister to revoke Rev. Rantles powers and
Rantle continues to solemnize marriages and to minister to the
of the things that I think the Respondents failed to demonstrate is
that Rev. Rantle was not telling the truth when he says
running a church that was registered under Methodist Church of South
Africa (Pty) Ltd. Most probably it was under that
church that the
marriage was solemnized or under that church he was appointed by the
Minister. It was upon the Respondents to
show that Rev. Rantle was
not telling the truth. It was upon the Respondents to demonstrate
in that regard that what Rev. Rantle
said was not true even on a
balance of probabilities.
us speak about that letter MCSA1. It is a clear illustration
of what inadmissable evidence is. No one knows about
of that letter. Rev. Lekitlane and Rev. Mabitle only knows that it
exists, but they do not know about the truth
of letter because what
witnesses came about or attempted to do was to testify is about the
truth of the letter. In this, in
my opinion, they failed. That is
why it becomes even doubtful as to whether Rev. Rantle knows
anything about the letter. He
might be lying but nothing has been
proved. In any event he bore no onus.
It might be that even before he was aware of the letter or even
before he knew about it, he had gone through those disciplinary
processes, but the question is whether his knowledge can be presumed
as to what allegedly had happened in relation to matter
in that letter. Who says he was brought before the disciplinary
hearing? Who says he was charged? Who says he admitted
guilty or not? So that, that letter had no value except that at
best he knew about it or he knew it existed. It would
better if someone said he gave the letter to Rev. Rantle and then
the question would have safely been as to what he
did upon the
receipt of the letter. Ideally there had to be someone who says
that Rev. Rantle has been discontinued as a matter
of first hand or
church has not done anything about Rev. Rantles purported
continuation of his duties as a priest. Closely related
constitution of the church. I am not prepared to investigate what
the proper constitution of the church is. It might
even be that
MCSA (Pty) Ltd as testified to by Rev. Rantle does not even exist
and that certificate showing registration of the
church is a sham.
It might even be that the whole document if it was brought forward
or disclosed does not say anything about
the main issue, the point is that I cannot nullify a marriage or
marriages unless it is demonstrated that Rev. Rantle has been
removed or was discontinued or his appointment has been revoked
because there are courts to do that when all has failed. That
what the courts are for. If Rev. Rantle continues to do as he likes
that is the problem of the church. In the end, he ends
his own church, if no proper step is taken. It is unfortunate if it
is to be so against what is right and proper.
the MCSA think that Rev. Rantle was acting irregularly, they should
have acted positively against him. What is important
is that there
are things that this court is presently not supposed to investigate
save the validity of this marriage. All in
all I do not see that Mr
Rantle wrongly solemnized this marriage. Perhaps there would be as
fight what the church is or what
the church ought to be but that
fight is not properly before this court. If there is a confusion,
there is a confusion but it
is not the business of the court today.
If the congregation is divided is not the business of this court
Mr Rantle seems to convince the court that he
has always run this ministry. If not the church will still take
marriage between the Applicant and the Deceased was a valid marriage
and I do not see why this court should nullify it.
about all the marriages that Mr Rantle had solemnized unless action
is taken by the state or church to pronounce
that he is acting
irregularly and this court is the right court not the magistrate
court to pronounce that Mr Rantle is not a
proper priest and was not
authorized to solemnize marriages.
this court these Respondents have not discharged this burden of
proof to satisfy the court that Rev. Rantle is nothing
church. This thing of the government gazette of being not properly
worded where it says South African instead of Southern
referring to the Methodist Church is a kind of a mistake that I will
not deal with now. I condoned that because the
Minster was thinking
of Rev. Daniel Rantle who testified that he is still a priest and he
said so himself in the witness box.
application succeeds and I make no order as to costs.
Plaintiff : Adv. Makhera
Respondents : Adv. S. Kao/Lesuthu
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