In what will come across as a really shocking development, the Senior Pastor of Soweto branch of the Five Fold Interdenominational Church Outreach Ministries, South Africa, has come under fire after being accused of raping a minor.
Members of the church reportedly lodged a complaint with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) on Tuesday March 2, accusing him of raping and impregnating a minor.
The South African pastor was also accused of touching female congregants inappropriately, a scandal which has divided the church.
Though no criminal case has been opened against the pastor, Sowetan however reported that the church members in their complaint alleged that the South African Pastor has been sexually grooming the 14-year-old girl, who lived at their estate home in Fourways, Johannesburg. She was reportedly sent back home to East Cape after she got pregnant.
In a brief interview with Sowetan last week, the now 24-year-old woman admitted to having been taken advantage of by the pastor when she was in her early teens. She said she would give further details once she had spoken with her lawyer.
The pastor was further accused of having sexual relations with two female congregants whom he allegedly wanted to marry in a polygamous marriage.
The complaint read; “A few years later, after the girl had grown beyond legal age limit and gone back to stay with the family, she continued to have sexual relations with the pastor and a second baby was born in 2020. The second baby came after a few abortions that were paid for by the pastor.
“Towards the end of 2020, there were growing allegations of extramarital affairs and a possible polygamous marriage agreed to by both the pastor and his wife. The potential second wife (name withheld) is a member of the congregation who has been seen and proven to be in a relationship with the pastor as he himself confessed to [it].”
The Pastor’s wife on the other hand, was accused of giving the girl money to silence her.
The congregants also linked the pastor to another church member whom he allegedly got engaged to. However, his wife found out and allegedly chased the woman away from the church. It was learnt that the pastor was forced to step down in January following an intervention by the church’s executive management.
The parish management committee deputy chairperson Puseletso Lukele told the publication; “I can’t give you the exact number of complaints or people that are affected. There are just too many of them.
“We received so many grievances from the youth and we took those to the executive committee before we went to Gogo (the pastor’s wife). Gogo told the church how sorry she was and the pastor resigned. He was also called to the executive meeting where he apologised. [Someone was appointed] but some congregants are against [the] appointment, which has divided us.”
CRL spokesperson Mpiyakhe Mkholo confirmed that they have received the complaint. The commission has been investigating cases of abuse, cults and financial mismanagement in churches. They have been holding public hearings since last year.
The sex scandal was also highlighted in the church’s feedback session held last month where the management committee conceded that it was made aware of the abuse last year.
Minutes of the meeting read; “[The parish management committee] was not aware of Baba’s [the pastor] conduct until last year when the youth sent a memo.
“[The committee] was not aware that Baba wants to take isithembu ( to marry more than one wife). Mama (the pastor’s wife) only told individuals last year after we returned from lockdown. Everything we are saying was reported by the youth and other concerned people.”