Anglican Manicaland diocese priest, Reverend Gilbert Sambona, has been accused of having a romantic affair with a married parishioner.
Mr Clever Ndiringepi, a church member, claimed that the man of cloth was in an intimate relationship with his wife, Bridget. In November last year, Mr Ndiringepi wrote a two-paged letter of complaint to the Anglican Manicaland diocese leader, Bishop Erik Ruwona.
“On the 1st of November 2016, I checked my wife’s (Bridget Ndiringepi) phone. I went through Whatsapp chats and came across a disturbing chat between her and a person saved as Mbona Rev, with the cell number +263 773 436 942 on the 31st of October 2016 and Sunday 30th October 2016.
“All these were love messages. It’s undoubted that the two are in love as per attached copies of the chat. I also noticed messages of the same nature between the two, even in my wife’s Netone number. “There were also Ecocash transfers from the Reverend to my wife… I have become very unsettled with this issue so much that I am now suffering from hypertension,” reads part of the letter.
Whatsapp chats between Rev Sambona and Ndiringepi’s wife.
Following this, on November 7, 2016; the Anglican Manicaland diocese wrote to Rev Sambona: “The church is instituting investigation into your conduct as a member of the Clergy… it is alleged in terms of Canon 24 (1) (J) that is your conduct giving just cause for scandal or offense, otherwise unbecoming a Clergyman in that, you are being accused of the following;
“(i) Having an illicit relationship with a married woman namely Bridget Ndiringepi, same who is your parishioner at St Agnes Chikanga Parish. (ii) See attached the complaint letter and extract of the Whatsapp chat.”
However, Rev Sambona dismissed the allegations saying some church members are out to tarnish his image. “They are trying to assassinate my reputation,” he said.
In a letter dated November 14, 2016, Rev Sambona said the case had no basis. “I hereby categorically deny every allegation and wish to make it clear that I am not in a love relationship or illicit affair whatsoever with the alleged woman,” he said.
However, sources close to the issue said that the Anglican Manicaland diocese has ordered Rev Sambona’s immediate transfer from St Agnes Chikanga parish to St Peters Mandeya.
The reverend is resisting the transfer. “On February 16, 2017 after a prayerful consideration, the church wrote a letter informing Rev Sambona that he has been transferred to St Peters Mandeya but he refused.
“In violation of the transfer, Rev Sambona failed to assume duties at St Peter’s Chipley, Mandeya; leaving the church with no other option but to discipline him,” said an Anglican Manicaland church official who preferred anonymity.
Anglican Manicaland leader Bishop Rev Erick Ruwona said the church is still probing the matter. “We are looking into the matter and will furnish you with relevant information as soon as there is a decision,” he said.