There was drama at the Methodist Church of Southern Africa (MCSA) yesterday as messengers of the court evicted Bishop Daniel Rantle from the church’s Maseru West premises.
The theatrical events began unfolding around 10am when two Maseru Magistrate’s Court officials arrived at the church with a warrant to eject the embattled priest.
The eviction order was granted after Bishop Rantle lost a protracted court battle to control the church to a rival faction.
The ‘warrant of ejectment’ which was issued by the Maseru Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, reads: “Whereas in this action, the Plaintiff (Methodist Church of Southern Africa) on 14 December 2009 obtained a judgment for the ejectment of the Defendant (Daniel Rantle) from the premises or land known as Plot No 160 Lancers Drive, Maseru West.
“And whereas the Defendant appealed under case number CIV/A/34/2010 against the above Honourable Court’s judgment delivered on 14 December 2009 and the said appeal was dismissed on 7 February 2014 and the judgment of the Magistrate’s Court was upheld.
“This is to authorise and require you (messenger of the court) and or any member of the Lesotho Mounted Police to put the said Plaintiff into possession of the said premises or land by removing the Defendant therefore for which this shall be your warrant…And return to this court what you have done by virtue hereof”.
However, the court officials were barred from effecting the eviction by Bishop Rantle’s wife, ’Mathapelo and one Steven Mapheelle. The fierce resistance forced the messengers to retreat and obtain a warrant of arrest for Ms Rantle and Mr Mapheelle for contempt of court.
The court officials then returned to the church with three police officers who promptly arrested Ms Rantle and Mr Mapheelle. The two were immediately whisked away to the court in a pickup truck, where they made a brief appearance before being released.
A court official present during the brief hearing told the Lesotho Times that the duo was made to understand the contents of the ejection warrant and warned against blocking the eviction.
But in yet another dramatic turn of events, when the two court messengers returned to the church in the company of police officers to finally effect the eviction, Bishop Rantle and his followers—who had come in numbers to support their cleric—had locked the main church building and left the premises.
The Lesotho Times witnessed Bishop Rantle and his supporters securing the building and his residence and leaving the scene before the evictors arrived.
However, the court officials broke the locks to the premises and replaced them to ensure the Bishop and his supporters would not gain entry on their return.
Earlier, Bishop Rantle had told the Lesotho Times in an interview that some of the people in a group watching the drama were behind his troubles which he said started way back in 2006.
“They are actually a faction fighting the church; they left a long time ago to start their own service elsewhere. Now they want to come back after all this time to cause trouble here,” Bishop Rantle said, and also dismissed the eviction warrant as fake.
“The dates on the document are handwritten and not typed, which means it is not authentic,” he said.