A WELL-KNOWN long-serving Port Elizabeth pastor accused of tax evasion has won the first legal round in an ugly court battle with his detractors over control of a Sanctor church.
Judge Busiswe Majiki last week ordered that papers Pastor Peter Twynham believed to be essential to prove his innocence be handed over to him by his former trustee, Quinton Isaacs.
Isaacs has up to now refused to hand over some of the church’s financial records, auditing notes and the statements of the Ubuntu Funeral Fund. As church treasurer he had control of them.
The court also ordered that Isaacs pay the legal costs for both sides out of his own pocket and not use the church’s money.
"In my view Isaacs unduly denied Twynham timeous access to the documents which in any case are his [Twynham’s] property,” Majiki said.
More legal action to determine the church’s leadership will follow in the next two months.
Twynham, 77, claimed in papers before court that he was wrongfully accused by Isaacs, whom he called "a stranger to the truth” and whose only interest was wresting the Endtime Light Tabernacle congregation from him. He claims in the court papers that he faithfully served the congregation for 40 years, paying his taxes throughout.
SARS has also completed an investigation into Twynham’s tax affairs and found that there were no outstanding unpaid taxes.
A power struggle with the church’s former trustee, Isaacs, had however led to heightened tensions, a barrage of false allegations against him and confrontations and assaults between congregants, Twynham said.
The climate of suspicion had led to a reluctance of some congregants to tithe, he said.
The legal standoff was triggered by attempts to formalise the election of a new trustee for the church. Members of the congregation filled the Port Elizabeth High Court to capacity during both days of the hearing.