A Livingstone Church elder has dragged a church member to the Lusaka High Court, seeking damages for libel for accusing him of being a “thief on the pulpit”.

Reverend Martin Chembo Chama, a presiding elder at Jordan Chapel African Methodist Church in Livingstone, Southern Province, has sued Webster Lukonka, seeking an order for damages for libel, interest on the sums found due, costs and other relief the court might deem fit.

In a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court principal registry, November 25, Rev Chama stated that during prime time news aired on Prime Television on February 24, this year, Lukonka uttered defamatory statements aimed at disparaging and undermining him in his capacity as reverend and presiding elder at Jordan Chapel African Methodist Church, Livingstone.

He stated that that Lukonka was heard saying, on the said clip, that; “even if the pastor stands on the pulpit to preach, we are not getting anything because all we see is a thief on the pulpit”.

Rev Chama stated that the said words were understood to mean that he was dishonest, crooked and had stolen money belonging to the African Methodist Church.

Rev Chama lamented that as a result of the broadcast, he had been subjected to odium, contempt and ridicule by right thinking members of society.

Rev Chama added that in consequence, his reputation had been seriously damaged and he had suffered considerable distress and embarrassment.

He contended that Lukonka did not take time to investigate and had no proof of him misappropriating any funds belonging to the church before he uttered the defamatory statement.

Rev Chama further stated that despite various reminders and demands for him to issue a formal apology, Lukonka had failed or neglected to comply or even respond to the demand.

“In the premises, the plaintiff (Rev Chama) has suffered considerable embarrassment and emotional and mental turmoil due to the effect the disparaging comments have had on his reputation as a clergyman,” read the statement of claim.