A WAR of words that erupted earlier this year between Prophet Steven Hange of the End Time Message Prophetic and Healing Ministry and Djeimo Popyeinawa, the headman of the Engela village in the Ohangwena Region, has reached fever pitch this week forcing the prophet to suspend church services in the village, a move he described as a strategic retreat.
Headman Popyeinawa said that the dispute was not really necessary.
“The dispute erupted only because of the prophet’s arrogance and disrespect of the traditional authority. He appeared to be under the impression that just because he calls himself a prophet he is above the law,” he said.
He explained that some months ago it came to his attention that an unknown preacher has established a church in the village using a traditional homestead as his chapel without informing the traditional authority and that church members were allegedly accusing some villagers of being witches, causing discord in the society.
“My own investigation later confirmed that what was alleged is indeed true. I ordered the suspension of the church services and summoned the preacher to come and explain himself to the traditional authority. The church services did not stop and the prophet refused to come to me. Instead, he sent a group of bad mannered youngsters to my house,” he said.
Popyeinawa further said that the prophet’s initial reasoning was that he did not need permission from the village headman because his church services are held in a homestead and that he was granted permission by the homestead owner.
“Such reasoning is invalid because land is allocated with a specific purpose. You cannot transform into church land what was allocated for agricultural and residential purposes,” said Popyeinawa.
But prophet Hange sees things differently.
Speaking in an interview with Informante, Hange said that the village headman is a tribalist who is denying him land just because he was not born in the Engela village.
Hange is originally from Okahandja and moved to Engela last year.
“They are falsely accusing my church of all kinds of misdeeds as pretext to hide what is essentially a tribalistic act. They think that people who were not born in Engela cannot be allocated land in Engela,” he said.
Popyeinawa resorted saying that the issue has nothing to do with tribalism but has everything to do with following procedures and the law.
“I did not receive any application for land from that preacher. By the way, one will not be given preferential treatment just because he calls himself a prophet. One must apply and land would be allocated where it is available. He never applied. He came in as a squatter and that we do not allow.”
Hange said he is not impressed by the fact that on several occasions Popyeionawa addressed him as “the so-called prophet”.
“He is insulting me, calling me a ‘so called prophet’. I am not a ‘so-called prophet’. I did not stand up one day and the next day I became a prophet. I have got the necessary qualification. I have studied and paid for it,” he said.