The rape trial of Rivers of Living Waters Church leader, Bishop Stephen Bafana Zondo resumed in the Pretoria High Court on Monday, with the third witness giving evidence in camera following a request by the state.
The matter was postponed late last year with two witnesses testifying against the popular preacher. Zondo is facing 10 charges ranging from rape and indecent assault to defeating the ends of justice.
The clergyman is alleged to have repeatedly raped his relative at her Sebokeng home in 1980 and gave her sweets in return for her silence. He also allegedly raped other women at his church under the pretext of deliverance and prayers.
On Monday, the third witness gave evidence in-camera following the state’s request. The witness who also testified at the CRL rights commission hearings cited safety reasons. But the church is not convinced.
“Some people are guided by fear, or they know what they have been saying is not true. What we don’t understand is that when she went to the CRL commission she was live on TV but today something has changed, she is requesting that she wants to give evidence in-camera. We are not moved by that, we agreed, we don’t have any problem, it’s not even a setback it’s a victory to us to say when you know that you are telling the truth, there’s nothing to fear if you are telling the truth,” says the church’s Sello Modibedi.
Modibedi says they are happy with the progression of the trial.
“We are happy that they’ve brought this matter to court. Our father will no longer be tried by the court of public opinion, he has been tried for many years and has been sentenced by the court of public opinion that he is guilty.”
Outside court, Zondo’s supporters continued to rally for him, singing church hymns. On the other side, a group that goes by the name of Murendeni picketed against the pastor.
“We stand for the victims of Zondo who were raped and whose homes were broken as a result. We comprise of various churches against the abuse of women and children,” says a man who supports the alleged victims.
It is not clear when Monday’s witness will conclude her testimony, but legal representatives have indicated it could take two days.
In the video below, reporter Molemo-Waone Mothoa gives more details about the trial:
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