– He raped girl (9)
Rivers of Living Waters Church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo was yesterday warned by the court not to directly or indirectly contact any of the State witnesses in his sex trial.
This came after the prosecution told the North Gauteng High Court that it had received information that Zondo had attempted to contact some of the witnesses.
The defence team, however, have denied this.
Some of the witnesses, including alleged victims, were in court yesterday, as well as a host of Zondo’s followers.
Prosecutor Jennifer Cronje told the court that the witnesses were “subjected to stares” in court and that they were then removed from court and placed at a secure spot.
Zondo’s trial was postponed for a week to enable his defence team to further locate some workers who were employed at his church at the time of the alleged incidents.
His advocate, Khelu Nondwango, wanted a couple of months to prepare for the defence case, but Judge Peet Johnson put his foot down.
The judge said it was not a difficult case and the defence team should be able to further prepare their case within the next week.
Nondwango asked for a postponement as he said the defence had only received the case dockets on July 22.
He said apart from one of the allegations against the bishop, the rest related to alleged incidents long ago.The court was told it was claimed that most of the alleged sex crimes occurred on the church premises in Evaton.
The defence needed to consult office workers who would have been around at the time.
Most have left the employ of the church over the years, the court was told, and it was a difficult process to locate some of them.
The defence also said they noticed that there were about 24 witnesses that the State wanted to call and they needed to speak to them.
Cronje, who was opposed to the postponement, said she would definitely not allow the defence near her witnesses.
She also frowned on the fact that the defence wanted time to consult with “expert witnesses”.
She remarked that it was a straight forward sex trial and questioned why experts were needed.
Judge Johnson said he would allow a postponement for a week, as Zondo cannot be punished for the fact that his defence team only asked for the case dockets at the end of July.
Scores of his church supporters gathered outside the court, holding placards which read, “Hands off Archbishop Zondo” and “The body of Christ is under attack”.
Some also wore T-shirts his face.
Zondo was expected to plead to several charges, including rape, contravention of the Sexual Offences Act and defeating the ends of justice.
It was claimed in the indictment that most of the alleged victims were members of his flock.
Two out of the 10 charges listed, however, pertain to a child who was around 9 years old at the time when she was allegedly repeatedly raped by Zondo.
It was claimed that these acts took place between April and June 1980 in a house where Zondo also resided for a while.
According to the indictment, Zondo used to call her into the house to do some chores, and he would then allegedly rape her.
The incidents apparently stopped after the child ran away.
The State claimed that after a charge of rape was laid against Zondo, a family meeting was held to discuss sporting the situation.
It is said that “during the meeting, the accused admitted the allegations against him and offered to cleanse the complainant by paying her R25 000”.
The State said this was done on condition that she withdrew the charge against Zondo.
The complainant, it is said, declined the offer.
Further allegations include that Zondo took one of his flock to the Formula One Hotel, where he raped her.
Another alleged victim claimed she was lured to his office at church under the guise that he wanted to pray for her.
He then allegedly raped her. Another church member, who worked as a chef, claimed she too was raped after being called to his office for prayers.
Two other church members claimed that while their eyes were closed during his prayer to them (on separate occasions), he forced his private part into their mouths.