Bishop Zondo rape accuser says he should tell truth because he is religious

Rivers of Living Waters Church priests in court. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Rivers of Living Waters Church priests in court. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Nov 23, 2021


Pretoria - Rivers of Living Waters Church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo should tell the truth about what he had done because he is a religious man.

This is according to the woman who claimed that he had raped her on three occasions 40 years ago when she was just 7.

But the Zondo camp insisted that the alleged victim thumb-sucked the charges, as she and her family wanted him to pay them R1 million to drop the charges.

The woman, who is the first of eight alleged victims to take the stand in Zondo’s Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, rape trial, has been cross-examined for several days by Zondo’s advocate.

She claimed that she was raped in either 1980 or 1981 by Zondo, who was then a teenager.

Rivers of Living Waters Church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

The witness, who cannot be identified, said she only had the courage 40 years later to speak in public about what happened to her.

According to her she was afraid of Zondo all these years, but as she is now an adult and a mother, she had the courage to no longer “keep their dark secret.”

But advocate Piet Pistorius, on behalf of Zondo, said this was simply a money-making scheme by the alleged victim and her family, as they knew Zondo was a wealthy man.

The woman earlier testified that after she laid the rape charges against Zondo last year, the uncles called a family meeting, where Zondo was also present.

She claimed that he had burst out in tears and apologised to the family after she told them what had happened to her all those years ago.

According to her, they offered her a “consolation prize” consisting of, among others, cattle.

Pistorius said the meeting was called by the witness and her family, as they wanted money in return for dropping the charges.

“The meeting was called by you for one reason and one reason only, to get money from my client,” Pistorius said.

He said the witness knew that Zondo was financially very well off.

“The church my client has built, starting off with two people in a room, has grown over two decades and he has many followers – here and across the borders. You knew this and that’s why you wanted to extort money from him,” Pistorius said.

The witness denied this and said the only reason she attended the meeting and was prepared to face Zondo was because she wanted justice after all these years.

“They (the uncles) kept on asking what I needed. When he (Zondo) left the meeting to take a call or to go to the bathroom, they pleaded with me to resolve this matter internally. You would swear I was taking the accused to the slaughterhouse, while all I wanted was justice,” she said.

The witness added that her brother earlier suggested that she should rather withdraw the rape charges.

“He told me that God would intervene and punish him (Zondo). But I said I cannot after keeping the secret for 40 years. I now needed justice. I also need closure.”

Pistorius said Zondo will deny that he ever made her any offer to drop the charges.

He also told the witness that her radio interview in which she told the public “her story” after 40 years had damaged Zondo’s reputation immensely.

The witness responded that not only was his reputation at stake, but so was hers. “My reputation means a lot to me,” she said.

Pistorius said he would argue at the end of the trial that she had levelled false allegations against Zondo purely for financial reasons.

“You were only looking for imali (money),” Pistorius said.

The matter is proceeding.

Pretoria News