Thursday 12 August 2010

Letter to the People of the Diocese of George

Letter from the Archbishop of Cape Town, 10 July 2010 (Please read this in conjunction with the Letter to the Laos, in the posting below.)

To God’s faithful people in the Diocese of George


In January 2009 I was informed about administrative mismanagement within the Diocese of George. The document informing me of this mismanagement was signed by the majority of the Trust and Finance Board as well as by all the Archdeacons. The document asserted that mismanagement was a result of the Diocesan Bishop, Bishop Donald Harker, not carrying out his fiduciary responsibilities in a responsible manner. This document was generated in accordance with Canons and Constitution of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa.

Since then three Provincial Teams have visited the Diocese of George to investigate more fully the assertions. What became clear was that significant fraud and theft had taken place in the diocese of George and that a Forensic Audit was required to ascertain the extent of the amount embezzled. Messrs PKF, an audit company operating in Port Elizabeth, was contracted by the province to undertake the audit which was completed some five months after the original engagement date. The delay was largely brought about by the number of fraudulent transactions. In most Forensic Audits fraud is limited to approximately 15-20 transactions. In the case of the Diocese of George this figure was approximately 1000 counts of fraud or suspicious transactions.

At the conclusion of the visit a report including recommendations was provided to me. As a result of the recommendations I have taken the following actions:

1. I have visited the Diocese of George and met with Bishop Donald Harker and his wife, Mrs Joan Harker. During the course of our discussion, Bishop Donald Harker agreed to step down as Diocesan Bishop with effect from the 10th of August 2010.

2. Consequently, I have appointed the Revd Canon Brian Marajh as Vicar General to act on my behalf until a new bishop is installed. The mandate of the Vicar General will include the implementation of good governance structures and the oversight of legislation.

3. I met with the Rectors and Churchwardens of the diocese to share the general findings of the forensic audit and the measures taken to normalise the present situation of uncertainty.

4. I have appointed a small team under the chair of the Diocesan Registrar, Mr Kenneth Peters to determine whether individuals named in the report would face civil or criminal liability and to report back to me by the 10th August 2010.

5. I have dissolved the current Board of Trustees and Finance and have appointed an interim Board to oversee the asset management of the Diocese until the next sitting of Diocesan Synod.

6. Furthermore I have agreed to lead a clergy retreat as part of the process of healing and renewal.

Having visited the Diocese, I am reassured that the remedial steps taken to date are providing a firm foundation for the management and good governance of the Diocese and the steps above will further enhance this process.

And now unto him, who is able to keep us from falling and to present us without blemish before the presence of his glory with rejoicing to the only God, our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time now and forever. Amen.

Yours in the Service of Christ

+Thabo Cape Town

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