A PRIEST from St Luke’s Anglican Church has testified before the Lusaka Magistrates’ Court how he sustained swollen lips after a congregant allegedly assaulted him during a church service.

Father Borniface Baleni narrated to the court that when the congregant arrived at the alter, he pretended as if he wanted to sing, before he started saying that, “we can’t be led by this man” while pointing at him.

He added that afterwards, the man approached him near the alter while looking angry before he got hold of him and slapped him in the face.

In this matter, Renard Mwale, a 62-year-old machine operator, is facing one count of assault occasioning actually bodily harm.

It is alleged that on November 22, last year, in Lusaka, Mwale assaulted Borniface Baleni and occasioned him actual bodily harm.

When the matter came up for trial, Wednesday, magistrate Judith Chayayika asked Fr Baleni, who is the complainant in the matter, whether he was willing to reconcile with the accused person, but he said no.

The complainant added that reconciliation would have only been possible before he took the matter to court.

And in his testimony, Fr Baleni narrated to the court that on the material day, he was sitted in front of the alter in church and that the service had already started.

He said when it was time for the choir to sing, Mwale, a church member who was in the congregation, stood from behind and walked towards the alter.

The witness said when Mwale arrived at the alter, he pretended as if he wanted to sing.

Fr Baleni said at this point, Mwale started saying that “we can’t be led by this man”, while pointing at him and added that “today, let’s cooperate”.

He said Mwale then approached him while looking angry and then got hold of him before he started to drag him.

Fr Baleni said Mwale slapped him on the face, but he failed to pull him further from his chair.

“Other congregants told Mr Mwale to stop what he was doing before they separated him from me. Mr Mwale then said that he will lock the church so that we can fight. There was total confusion in the church. People managed to pull Mr Mwale outside. I also managed to leave the church,” he said.

“As I was driving out of the yard, accused came to the window with a bottle of water and poured it on me. I sustained swollen lips and painful elbow and eyes.”

He said he developed stress and BP as a result of the embarrassing incident, adding that he later reported the matter to the police.

During cross examination, defence lawyer Petronella Kafumbe asked the complainant whether the medical report indicated the name of the person who assaulted him.

In response, Fr Baleni responded in the negative.

He, however, added that he knew that Mwale was the one who assaulted him.

Trial continues on March 29, 2021.