The Bishop of Zululand has resigned after having been accused of sexually assaulting a young male priest of his diocese. In a letter to his diocese released at the end of last month, the Rt. Rev. Monument Makhanya said he would relinquish office at the end of January following a series of hearings by a church tribunal into allegations he assaulted an unnamed priest of his diocese.
The bishop’s letter, which was made public this week by South Africa’s Sunday Times, said:
“An allegation has been made against me by one of our clergy. I appeared before the archbishop on Monday October 15 and the archbishop subsequently appointed a committee to do consultation with me and the said cleric, each stating their case. I must mention that after both appearances, I came back broken into 1000 pieces. I regret the allegations and pray for God’s mercy.”
The Archbishop of Cape Town, the Most Rev. Thabo Makgoba, told the Sunday TImes:
“The complainant initially delayed putting his account in writing, saying he was not emotionally ready to do so. When he did lodge a written complaint at my insistence, I followed our church’s guidelines and appointed a team including a senior bishop and a church lawyer, who met both the complainant and the bishop. After they reported back to me I met with Bishop Makhanya, at which time he indicated he would resign.”
Under South African canon law, the bishop’s resignation does not end the matter. His conduct will come before a review board, which will determine what sanctions the church will impose.
Bishop Makhanya had been one of the younger South African bishops, and had been consecrated in April 2016 after having served as dean of the cathedral in Eshowe.
The rural diocese serves 283 congregations stretching from the Tugela River in the South to the borders of Mozambique and Swaziland in the North, and inland to the Diocese of the Highveld.