Pensioner drags Bishop Lekganyane to court over Z.C.C burial policy

Zion Christian Church leader Bishop Barnabas Lekganyane and his church have been dragged to Pretoria High Court by two female church members over the church’s burial and accident policy scheme.

Lydia Melato and her daughter Kelebogile Melato have applied for an urgent court order to declare unlawful the conduct of Lekganyane, the church and the policy administrator, called Kganya  Insurance Administration.

They also wanted an interdict to  stop the the church, Lekganyane and the administrators  from victimising her.

Relating her story,  the 70 year old Melato from Hartbeesfontein in North West said  after joining  the church about 45 years ago, she was given a “rand card”  which assisted her and her family in the event of funerals.  She  said the card was replaced with “Kganya  Funeral Insurance” which was imposed on the congregants about 20 years ago by Lekganyane.

She said Lekganyane gave strict instructions to his pastors that any member who did not wish to join the  insurance scheme should not be allowed to enter his church.

“This is when there were pastors at the entrance of the church to check every member entering the church to produce the Kganya book in order to be allowed entry into the church. Many of us and with the love we have for the first respondent and with the respect and believe we have towards the second respondent, we ended up joining Kganya Funeral scheme under duress so that we can be allowed to continue being  members of the first respondent to date,” read the papers.

Melato said the terms and conditions of  the scheme were that if a member failed to make a contribution for a month, the funeral cover automatically falls away  and will not pay for  funeral expenses . “It doesn’t matter  how many years you have been contributing towards the scheme,” read the papers.

She also said the scheme also forced  both  husband and wife to have separate policies . “The husband is not allowed to cover his children and wife, instead only the wife is allowed to cover their children. The third term and condition are that you pay for as long as you live without any cash back,” read the papers.

Melato said what ruffled her feathers was when she went to her branch at  Tigane to pay her monthly contribution for the funeral on July 31. She said when she arrived there she was told by the branch leader Bonzekile Maekiso  that they received instruction  from Lekganyane and the church not to accept her contribution because her son, Lefi Molato was interdicted by the church.

She said Maekiso also told her that Lekganyane had instructed him to take away her Kganya booklet. She said she was surprised when the booklet and the money were taken away from her. She said her daughter’s booklet together with her money were  also taken away from her.  She said after the intervention of her son, the branch returned their booklets but allocated the payment for August instead of July. She said that meant  they have to wait for a period of three months before she could be covered by the policy even in the event of death. She  said the “temporary termination” of their cover was unlawful, wrongful and unreasonable and unjustifiable should be corrected  on urgent basis

“That the respondents be directed  to allocate the applicant’s Kganya contributions towards July month of 2022 not August 2022. The first, second and third respondents be ordered  and directed to  reinstate Kganya Membership of the applicant with immediate effect to the same status as before July 22 and /or without the loss of funeral cover. That  the first, second third respondents be interdicted, stopped and compelled to refrain from indirectly terminating the applicant’s Kganya membership in an unlawfully, unreasonable manner or without any valid reason and acceptable circumstances ,” read the papers.

The case was heard in the Pretoria High Court on Wednesday and judgment was for Friday.

ZCC spokesperson Ephraim Mafetsa said he would refer our questions to the church council for discussions before commenting on the matter.

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Ngwako Malatji,

Coceka Magubeni

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