Limpopo - A Zion Christian Church (ZCC) prophet has been arrested for allegedly raping a 27-year-old woman at the church’s headquarters in Moria.
The woman alleges that the prophet put a knife to her throat as he raped her on Saturday morning during an all-night prayer session at the church premises, east of Polokwane.
The suspect is said to be a full-time prophet who lives at the church’s official residence.
But the church, known to be a beacon of morality, on Monday distanced itself from the incident. Official Ronnie Malahlela claimed the church was not aware of the rape.
“We don’t know anything about it. Ask the police. That’s all I can say to you,” he said.
Mankweng police spokesman Constable Moses Molepo confirmed that a suspect was arrested on Sunday morning at Moria.
“The victim was taken to Mankweng Hospital, and doctors confirmed the rape. The suspect is scheduled to appear before the Mankweng Magistrate’s Court (on Tuesday),” said Molepo.
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she was raped inside the prophet’s residence in Moria.
She told The Star on Monday that she had earlier that night asked the prophet to recharge her cellphone battery. She went to fetch her cellphone, which is when the attack occurred. She said it was dark in the house. “I fought with him for about two hours, but he ultimately overpowered me,” she said.
“Whenever I tried to shout, he strangled me so that people would not hear me.”
She said she became extremely tired and the man raped her.
“After raping me, he begged me not to report the matter, and I promised him I would not report it,” she said. But this was simply to secure her freedom.
“When he released me, I went straight to the church’s office to report the matter. The church elders phoned the police.”
She said the elders were sympathetic to her plight and remained supportive.
She said she did not know the prophet personally, except as “the man of God in church”.
“I feel weak. It’s hard to take the image out of my mind,” she said.
The church, known for its silver-star badge, is southern Africa’s largest denomination, and the alleged crime scene is a place flocked to by millions every year for annual church festivities, especially during the Easter weekend.