Rustenburg – Self-acclaimed apostle Hlumelo Dywili has been sentenced to six life imprisonment terms on four counts of rape and two trafficking in person charges, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said on Wednesday.
The Eastern Cape High Court, sitting in Mbizana sentenced Dywili, 35, to additional five years in jail, on a charge of compelling and causing a person to witness a sexual offence but ordered the sentence to run concurrently with two life terms for rape.
Dywili, a singer and lay-pastor in the district of Mthatha, purported to be on a mission to heal sick people and secure jobs, also had a business selling products carrying his identity as the logo.
He sold the products at roadshows around the eastern part of the Eastern Cape and had a base in Mbizana.
Between July and August 2021, he used Facebook and Nkonjane Community Radio to advertise his businesses.
He used false testimonies from people claiming to have been helped by himself.
“One victim, originally from Komani in the Eastern Cape, but staying in Cape Town, responded to his Facebook advertisement.
“Dywili promised her a job and purchased a bus ticket for her travel.
“Upon her arrival, he raped her in his motor vehicle at his home in Mthatha before isolating her to his base in Mbizana on the following day.
“In Mbizana, she found two more victims who had also been lured to his base with promises of job offers,” said NPA spokesperson in the Eastern Cape division, Luxolo Tyali.
“He kept the three victims, who are all from poor families and had become financially dependent on him, captive and repeatedly raped them on numerous occasions.
“In one instance he forced one victim to watch him rape the other two.
“Contrary to what would be expected of an apostle, Dywili drank heavily, became violent and threatened the women, aged between 23 and 25 years, with a knife that he kept under the pillow of his bed."
A 17-year-old schoolgirl was the first rape victim to fall prey to Dywili in March 2020.
Her parents took her to him for healing after suffering epileptic seizures.
“He claimed to be performing healing procedures on her, by smearing baby oil and raping her using his fingers.”
At the that time he had sent the girl’s mother to the shops to buy materials for healing.
The mother took the child with her and went to open a case, Dywili was released on bail.
He was re-arrested after the other three women escaped from his Mbizana base.
“The case was handed over to the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (Hawks), Captain Lulama Jack, who managed to track down the first victim.
“During the trial he pleaded not guilty, claiming that the sexual intercourse with all of them was consensual and all the victims were his girlfriends,” Tyali said.
“State advocate Nkululeko Mzinyati led the evidence of the victims, community members who aided them to escape from his den and that Dywili’s ex-wife who testified that she was never suspicious of her husband’s actions.”
Judge Richard Brooks agreed with the prosecutor’s submission, that Dywili was not remorseful and had used his position of trust as a pastor to prey on desperate young women.
He found no compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of life for the offences.