Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pastor Ssempa's response on Sodomy and Kayanja


After the Police cleared Pastor Robert Kayanja of sodomy allegations, three pastors: Martin Ssempa, Solomon Male and Bob Kayiira were questioned over giving false information. Anthony Bugembe talked to Martin Ssempa over the saga which is tearing at the Pentecostal Church in the country...

Q: Why are you witch-hunting Pastor Robert Kayanja?

A: This is not a personal issue. Those who have known me over the last 16 to 17 years know very well that I have been very passionate about issues of morality and raising a generation of God-fearing people. I have counselled people living with HIV and victims of sexual abuse. Some of the victims alleged that they have been sodomised by Pastor Kayanja.

Q: Some people say you are overwhelmed by the many followers he has.

A: That is absolute rubbish. We wish Pastor Robert Kayanja well and I am not jealous. Each of us has a calling. Mine is to serve the university and young people. Because of that, I have made a sacrifice to live in this country and serve a congregation which doesn’t have money. I am serving God but not money.

Q: Is that why you are a strong critic of the prosperity gospel which Pastor Kayanja preaches?

A: I have actually been disappointed by the prosperity gospel and a series of issues in Pastor Robert Kayanja’s church which have brought trouble and a bad reputation for the body of Christ. These include some of his pastors like (Grace) Kitaka and (Isaac) Kiwewesi, who have been accused of (engaging in) homosexuality. Some of these cases are still pending.
My issue here on this case of sodomy is not against Pastor Kayanja. I am troubled and distressed by the boys who have alleged that Kayanja sodomised them.
Q: Why don’t you advise the boys who come to you to seek redress from concerned authorities like the Police?

A: We actually advised them and they have written statements. The problem is that the struggles surround the victims of homosexuality. There is shame, fear and intimidation because the victims are usually smaller than their victimisers.

Q: Do you have confidence in the Police to handle these allegations?

A: As the Police investigates these allegations, it is also under investigation by the public to see if there will be bias or impartiality.

Q: What do you think yourself?

A: I have confidence. That is why I came to record my statement. That is why I (also) recommended that those victims come and record their statements. But I am also anxious and troubled by the way the Police cleared Pastor Kayanja of allegations of homosexuality last Sunday and stated that the complainants had retracted their statements.
Meanwhile, these same complainants have come forward and denied such a thing. Our lawyer has written to the Minister of Internal Affairs to make sure there is impartiality in the handling of this case. We have also asked that any officer who is a member of Pastor Kayanja’s church or any of the pastors involved in these investigations, including myself, be excused from handling or commenting on this case. These include Judith Nabakooba, the Police spokesperson who we hear is a member of Pastor Kayanja’s church.

Q: As members of the born-again Christian movement, why don’t you settle your differences internally through structures?

A: I feel like this born-again movement is relatively new but it must grow in institutions. When Pastor (Simeon) Kayiwa was suspected of being be involved in a (witchcraft) scandal, there was a commission of inquiry, of which I was a member.
While I was dissatisfied with the results, it showed a sense of maturity. However, I am surprised that for all this time we have not had leaders.
On the other hand, homosexuality is a defining issue of our generation. Churches such as the Anglicans have been split on this issue. I suspect that there may be some balokole (Pentecostal) groups which have irreconcilable differences with others, especially on homosexuality.

Q: Don’t you think these allegations against Pastor Kayanja are going to divide the Church and Christianity in Uganda further?

A: We all desire unity but we cannot sacrifice truth and godliness for the sake of unity. Already other churches have been divided on the issue.
I don’t think the balokole will be immune from polarisation around the issue.

Q: Suppose it turns out that Kayanja is innocent, what will you do? Will you apologise to him?

A: I really wish it (the accusations) was a dream and I would wake up one day to realise that it never happened, because Kayanja is a significant leader in the body of Christ. But I am deeply distressed because I have heard these allegations since 1996 and they are persistent.

Q: What did you do when you started hearing those allegations?

A: I held an investigation in 1997 when Ivan Kizza, a body guard of Pastor Kayanja, first came and talked to me.

Q: Have you ever raised the issue with Pastor Kayanja?

A: In 1997, when I first investigated and counselled some of the alleged victims, I promptly notified the key balokole leaders I knew. These were Pastor Michael Kyazze, Apostle Alex Mitala and Pastor Fred Wantate.

Q: Why not Kayanja?

A: The Bible says don’t accept an accusation against an elder except when there are two or three witnesses. And talking to a significant leader (like Kayanja) would be like going to State House. I did not feel I was the one who had the competence and relationship to resolve this issue. That is why I talked to these leaders; the elders.

Q: What was their reaction?

A: Mitala and Wantate were shocked. Kyazze was not (shocked) for he had been aware of the same allegations. I am sad that no concrete and appropriate steps were taken to deal with these allegations of sexual abuse.

Q: Initially, you were working closely with Hon. Nsaba Buturo in the fight against homosexuality but it now appears you people are fighting the battle alone.

A: I still work with the minister but we have never worked closely with Kayanja. He has also never come to any of our demonstrations (against homosexuality).

Q: Assuming Kayanja is gay, so what?
A: The question is not whether Pastor Kayanja is gay, but has he sexually abused young boys? If he has, then he needs to apologise to them. He needs to reconcile and walk in the light with them.

Q: How many boys have so far come to you complaining of being sexually harassed?

A: The numbers are substantial enough to raise more than curiosity.

Q: What is the Police investigating you about?

A: I am surprised that the helpers of the victims and the victims are the ones being accused and detained while the accused is sitting at his church drinking tea. That is troubling in the course of justice. They are accusing me of believing Samson Mukisa after he told me that he was forced to change his statement under Police harassment. I even wrote to the internal affairs minister about it (Mukisa’s claim) and featured with the same boy on a UBC TV talk show last Sunday.
When I responded to their summons, the Police interrogated me about the TV show. They also wanted to know whether I had ever said that Kayanja is a homosexual and whether I paid boys to claim that Pastor Kayanja sexually abused them. This is strange. The boys came and complained against Kayanja. They registered their cases independently. Kayanja also registered a complaint that the alleged victims were set up. He is not complaining about the victims who put out their case but us.

Q: But the Police said Kayanja had no charges against him because the earlier complaints had been withdrawn.

A: What bothers me is a question about Police impartiality. The CID last Sunday came out and gave a ruling that Kayanja is cleared of homosexual allegations and that the victims had changed their statements, whereas they indeed had not. Mukisa insisted that he had been forced to change his earlier statement at gunpoint but he still insists he is a victim. That troubles me.
The CID is not there to judge the truth but to investigate facts. I am bothered that the case of victims versus Pastor Kayanja is being deliberately misrepresented to appear like a case of jealousy.
It is also unfair that Kayanja has been free to speak about this case in different media for the last one month and nobody has bothered to stop him. But when we and the victims begin to speak, we are stopped by CID and the TV programmes are shut down.

Q: Your last word?

A: I have confidence that this crisis is an opportunity for the nation and the Church to grow through building on infrastructure that will deal with allegations of abuse.

1 comment:

Aaron Timothy said...

This article is so eye opening, I have been following story from both sides and what bothers me is why doesn't a man of God like Kayanja allow authorities to carry out investigations and prove him innocent, after all he claims he did not sodomize any one. Besides isn't his God who he serves so powerful to fight for him, instead of police. It still can't fit in my mind the drama in the church today, I thought such were for politicians who are looking for power. Blessings. Hannah from Mayuge.