Supporters of Prophet Machawe Ndlovu (also known as Major) could not hide their excitement inside the Secunda Magistrate Court as he finally walked out on a suspended sentence on Tuesday, 14 January 2020.
During his verdict delivery, Magistrate Graham Cupido said the accused will be charged on statutory rape, since he had a sexual intercourse with a minor who was under the age of 16. He also mentioned that during trial, some of the witnesses evidence was inconsistent and had lots of unanswered questions.
“The fact that some of the complainant evidence was inadmissible, does not make your act admissible,” said Magistrate Cupido also reminding Ndlovu that as a church leader he was supposed to be more careful and get all the information about the victim.
According to the Magistrate, the state prosecutor could not prove that the accused had a sexual intercourse without the victim’s approval.
The accused who is 31 years of age and also a leader of Kinross Fire of Christ Embassy, is not married and has two children.
He has been a pastor for the past five years and was paid R5000 per month, depending on the coffers of the church.
Ndlovu’s attorney, Mr O.P Makobe pleaded with the magistrate to consider the time the accused spent in custody, which is eighteen months.
He further mentioned that his client was not in good health as he was diagnosed with tuberculosis.
“The accused handed himself to the police and that should be taken into account,” said his attorney.
During mitigating factors, the state prosecutor said the complainant was taken from a place where she was supposed to be safe.
“It is the duty of the state to protect women and children in general,” said the state prosecutor.
She further requested the court to consider a sentence that will send a strong message to the community.
Magistrate Cupido said the court will consider the circumstances under which the incident happened, the community interest and the accused health condition.
“The sexual offences are becoming of great concern within the country and we read and listen on media about women and children raped every day.
The courts have the responsibility to hand out sentences that will send a clear message to the community.
The fact that you are a pastor will count against you.
You were supposed to be a good example to your congregation and not abuse them,” the magistrate added.
He also mentioned that it was the accused first offence of that nature and that will be considered.
According to the magistrate when the incident happen, the complainant was twelve days away from turning 16 years of age.
Ndlovu was sentenced 8 years imprisonment, suspended for five years under the condition that he is not found guilty on the offence of the same nature.
The other three years were counted on the 18 months that he spent in custody.