Leader of the Arise and Shine Gospel Church, Benjamin Bheki Dingiso will on Monday return to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg where he is facing charges, including 31 counts of rape, sexual grooming of children, sexual assault, and attempted rape.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the 51-year-old man was serving as a pastor in the church. Dingiso was reportedly referred to as a “chief apostle”.
“Among his responsibilities, (Dingiso was mandated) to counsel church members spiritually and emotionally,” said Gauteng provincial spokesperson for the NPA, Phindi Mjonondwane.
“About eight young boys, aged between 15 and 20, had encountered the pastor, as members of the church during periods ranging from 2009 to 2021.
“Dingiso allegedly informed them that they had prophetic gifts from God that required training,” said Mjonondwane.
The training, the State alleges, induced the boys to meet with Dingiso in his office, where is accused of sexually violating and/or raping them.
He allegedly told the young men that he had to bond with them physically and spiritually “while naked for them to understand their prophetic gift”.
“Some of the boys were suffering emotionally and were sent to the accused (Dingiso) for counselling when he took advantage of their vulnerabilities and allegedly raped or sexually assaulted them,” said Mjonondwane.
Some of the boys testified that Dingiso had sexually molested them several times.
“They said the accused at times would squeeze them in a hug and proceeded to kiss them, while requesting that they massage his private parts,” said Mjonondwane.
“In his defence, while giving evidence in chief, Dingiso stated that he had never sexually molested the boys. He told the court that he only offered prophetic training to them and denied the allegations made by the complainants.”
The trial is continuing on Monday for Dingiso to be cross-examined in court.
In August, a ZCC pastor, who raped a 15-year-old congregant in Ermelo and then gave the victim’s brother R50, asking him not to report the matter to anyone, was sentenced to two life terms in prison.
The Ermelo Regional Court convicted and sentenced the Zion Christian Church pastor, aged 51, to two life terms after he was convicted on two counts for raping the 15-year-old church-goer on two separate occasions.
The pastor and the teenager were living in the same area and attending the same church, and these rape incidents happened between July and September 2020.
"In one incident, the accused came to the victim’s house and found the victim with his brother. He sent the victim’s brother to the nearby shop to buy him tea," NPA Mpumalanga regional spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said at the time.
"When he (the teenager’s brother) returned, he found the victim and the accused naked in his mother’s bedroom. He (pastor) then gave the victim’s brother R50 and asked him not to report the matter to anyone," Nyuswa said.