With Truth, all is well!

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Gatoaitele Savea Sano Malifa

This is not fair.

Reverend Dr. Afereti Uili, the former General Secretary of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (C.C.C.S.), is without a doubt a man living on the brink of utter shame today.

He had been accused of having a sexual affair with an “unnamed woman”, and as a result his services to the church were terminated.

So today, his reputation is in tatters, he has been stripped of his means of acquiring a decent livelihood for himself and his family, and yet the woman with whom he was supposed to have conducted a sexual affair is nowhere to be found.

In other words, it appears that she does not exist.

In early May this year when the sex allegation emerged, Dr. Afereti Uili all of a sudden found himself deeply embroiled in a messy scandal he had not anticipated at all.

Although he denied the claim saying there was no truth in it, the decision to strip him of his duties and responsibilities, went ahead anyway.

Made by the Church’s Elders, it was confirmed by Reverend Elder, Kerisiano Soti, and it was published in the Samoa Observer on 13 May 2016.

Asked for a comment then, Dr. Uili said: “The decision is baseless. They should have attempted to determine if there is any truth to the allegation first, before they came up with the decision. It has had a huge impact on me and my family.”

Still, the Elders’ decision was acted upon, and Dr Uili was suspended from his duties for five years.

Elder Soti then revealed that the Elders had summoned both Rev. Uili and the girl involved to tell their sides of the story, and he went on to say:

“Even though Afereti has denied the allegation, the girl involved has told us otherwise. So we’ve looked at the bigger picture and reached the conclusion that no Samoan lady would do such things for no reason.

“Even though he’s denying the allegation, the decision has been made by the Elders based on how they feel about the situation.”

And then aware that the allegation had become the subject of a Court hearing, Rev. Elder Soti said: “It has been referred to mediation and that mediation was not at the request of the girl’s side but that of Afereti’s side.”

He also said: “That means it’s going to be a prolonged process and the Elders feel we have to make a decision now.”

Asked for a comment at the time, Rev. Uili said he had been informed about the decision, saying: “My argument is this, I’m innocent. I haven’t done anything wrong. There has been no proof for these allegations.”

He went on to say: “I haven’t read a meeting resolution yet as to what the reasons are … but I suspect it has something to do with the allegation against me involving a girl.

“The decision they’ve made is based on their opinion that I have sinned but I strongly reject the allegation. Not only do I reject the allegation, as far as I’m concerned, nothing has been proven.”

Dr. Uili said when the allegations were made “I pleaded with the Elders Committee to consider them carefully especially because none of it is true.

“I strongly reject them but it seems they’ve made their decision based on their belief that the allegations are correct and I’m wrong.”

As for the matter awaiting a Court hearing, Dr. Uili said a decision had yet to be made.

“We are still waiting,” he said. “We haven’t been told about a time for that matter. It was adjourned from February and it’s now May and there is still nothing.”

He added: “I think the Elders’ Committee has made the decision based on their role as the body that monitors the behavior of the workers, and obviously they felt that I have behaved badly, I’ve sinned and it’s appropriate to remove the responsibilities and roles that had been given to me.

“I have no comment to make about who should do what, and when.

“The decision is the responsibility of the Elders. They have stripped me of my pastoral roles and also my role as the General Secretary of the Church.”

However, he said he harboured no ill feelings towards the Church and the Elders’ Committee, saying: “Although I’ve been removed from the Church, it doesn’t mean I hate the church.

“No, the Church belongs to Jesus Christ where God works to reach people.”

Still, he maintains that “the decision is baseless.”

And yes, “It is premature. They should have attempted to determine if there was any truth to the allegation first before they came up with the decision.”

And then he repeats: “It has had a huge impact on me and my family.”

Anyway, that was in May.

Yesterday, on the front page of the Samoa Observer, the headline reads: “Court cautious over sex allegation mediation deal.”

Below the headline is the story of the mediation talks held in connection with the sexual affair that allegedly took place between  Dr. Uili and the so-called “unnamed woman.”

The matter was heard in the Supreme Court with His Honour, Chief Justice Patu Tiavasu’e Falefatu Sapolu, presiding.

This time though, no mention of an “unnamed woman” was made during the deliberations, except the defendant whose name is Angeline Lesa.

She was represented by counsel, Alalatoa Rosela Papali’i, who applied to the court that she be withdrawn from the case, explaining that she had tried a number of times to contact her client, but she had had no success.

According to Dr. Uili, he filed a defamation claim against Angeline Lesa when he was stripped of his roles from the church, and the matter was referred to mediation.

And even though an agreement had been reached there, it is understood that the details of which, would remain confidential.

Why?

Chief Justice Patu said he thought the defendant would appear in court yesterday but she had not turned up.

He ruled: “I cannot enter a judgment by consent without the defendant’s presence to tell the Court that she has given her consent.

He also said:  “What we have is a mediated agreement, but the advantage of making such an agreement subject of consent judgment, is that you can then have the powers of the Court with regards to enforcing the mediated agreement, because it has now become a judgment.”

Fine.

But where does that leave Dr. Afereti Uili, now that his defamation claim he had hoped would clear his name - by substantiating his denial that he had never had a sexual affair with the defendant - has been thrown callously out the window?

Does anybody care about the truth anymore?

Tell the rest what you’re thinking!

© Samoa Observer 2016

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