Pastor Accused of Witchcraft, Fraud

A leading preacher in Kampala has been accused of witchcraft and defrauding his American and British sponsors of at least Shs 100 million.

Pastor Simeon Kayiwa and his wife Celia, both of Namirembe Christian Fellowship, are at the centre of the controversy raised by American businesswoman and author Rochelle Gibler.

"It becomes dangerous for others when important information is suppressed, and too many live in fear. It's time people found out the dark truth behind this man," says Ms Gibler in articles written for The Monitor.

Pastor Kayiwa is also the chairman of the National Fellowship of Born Again Churches.

Ms Gibler sponsored Mr Kayiwa from 1994, and in 1998 published a book about the pastor's alleged miraculous healing.

Ms Gibler says that subsequently several of her friends gave the pastor thousands of dollars in donations.

But all association and support ceased last year after reports of theft and witchcraft.

Pastor Kayiwa also is accused of being proud of his ability to punish (by cursing) those who challenge his power, demanding pornographic movies, selling off donations, and demanding a car when asked to pray for a horse in a £250,000-race.

But the pastor was in defiant mood when The Monitor contacted him on Good Friday.

First, he refused to say whether he knows Ms Gibler, whether he has ever flown with her to Colorado in the United States or whether she has ever visited him in Kampala.

Then he insisted on recording the interview that never was, saying he does not trust reporters.

"What is it with Rochelle Gibler? What has she said?" he asked anxiously in a cosy office behind his church on Balintuma Road in Mengo, Kampala.

Pastor Kayiwa kept repeating that he is a public figure and that he first had to hear Ms Gibler's accusations before deciding whether to comment. The pastor said a lot of people, whether black or white, say a lot of falsehoods when they are mad or jealous.

He refused to respond to any of Ms Gibler's accusations, saying he does not respond to rumours.

"I am not going to be described by foreigners when people in Uganda know me better," he said.

While politely showing this reporter the door, the pastor advised that Ms Gibler's allegations be ignored.

"She is going to frustrate you for nothing even as a paper," he warned.