Byline: Refeloe Letsoisa

14 August 2023

The Ermelo Regional Court convicted and sentenced a 51-year-old Zion Christian Church(ZCC) pastor, to two life terms after he was accused of two counts for raping a 15-year-old congregant member on two separate occasions.

The accused and the victim were residing in the same area and attending the same church.

The two incidents happened between July and September 2020.

In one incident, it is alleged that the accused came to the victim’s house and found the victim with his brother.

The accused sent the victim’s brother to a nearby shop to buy him tea.

When the victim’s brother returned, he found the victim and the accused naked in his mother’s bedroom.

The accused then gave the victim’s brother R50 and asked him not to report the matter to anyone.

In a second incident, the victim was on her way to meet up with her sister when the accused called her to his house and on arrival, it is alleged that the accused locked the door, threw her on the bed and raped her.

The matter was reported, and the victim was taken to Ermelo Thuthuzela Care Centre for medical examination, counselling, and psychosocial support.The accused refuted the accusation made against him in court.

The victim’s testimony was led by State Prosecutor Rothman Chan, and the victim’s brother also provided testimony based on what he witnessed on the first incident that occurred.

The victim’s mother and the medical report supported their testimony. Prosecutor Rothman submitted a victim impact statement for sentence aggravation that had been written by the victim’s mother and assisted by Court Preparation Officer Faith Masango.

The mother stated that the family trusted the accused because he was their spiritual father, leader, and a father figure to children in the church.

She further stated that she felt very furious and disappointed since he was meant to protect children rather than take advantage of their vulnerabilities.

Magistrate Eben Jonker sentenced each count to life in prison after concluding that there was no good cause to differ from the minimal requirement.

The court ordered the accused name to be entered into the National Register for Sexual Offenders and was declared unfit to possess a firearm and unsuitable to work with children as part of the sentence.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in Mpumalanga Advocate Nkebe Kanyane welcomed the conviction and the sentence imposed on the accused.

We further applaud the good work done by the Ermelo TCC, the Prosecutor, and the investigating officer “Sentences of this nature are indicative of our commitment to the fight against gender-based violence”.