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Court papers list bishop's alleged sins: rape, indecent assault and trying to buy silence

23 August 2021 - 15:44 By naledi shange
Bishop Stephen Zondo is standing trial in the high court in Pretoria on numerous charges, including rape and indecent assault.
Bishop Stephen Zondo is standing trial in the high court in Pretoria on numerous charges, including rape and indecent assault.

Court papers reveal that Rivers of Living Waters Ministries head Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo is accused of raping seven women and trying to bribe one into dropping a case.

One of the women was a minor when the alleged rape happened. She claimed that Zondo had repeatedly raped her in the 1980s in Sebokeng. Zondo is further accused of trying to bribe this victim last year.

An indictment submitted to the court alleged that he had in May 2020 tried to bribe her into dropping the case with R25,000.

A second victim was allegedly raped by Zondo at a Johannesburg hotel in 2008.

Another was allegedly raped by Zondo at his church premises, while the others reported being raped in Evaton between 2013 and 2018. 

Zondo faces a total of 10 charges, ranging from rape and indecent assault to defeating the ends of justice. 

The bishop and his congregants have vehemently denied the allegations since they surfaced, claiming there was a smear campaign aimed at discrediting his ministry.

Zondo last year tried to stop hearings by the CRL Rights Commission, where damning allegations made by former congregants of his church were to be heard. He took the matter to court but failed in his bid to interdict proceedings. 

The commission heard from several witnesses who not only accused the man of the cloth of sexual abuse but also made allegations of philandering, witchcraft and financial misconduct against Zondo and the church. 

Monday was meant to be the first day of Zondo's trial but the matter was postponed after his legal team argued that they were not given a pretrial conference. 

The presiding judge, however, said a pretrial conference was not a prerequisite for a trial. 

Zondo's legal team then requested a postponement until the end of November, saying it needed to prepare its own witnesses and go through more than 200 pages of evidence brought by the state. 

That request was refused and a postponement was granted until next Monday. 

The National Prosecuting Authority told TimesLIVE that the state, along with its 24 witnesses, was ready to proceed. 

It was not immediately clear how many witnesses Zondo's legal team intended to call in his defence.