A woman protests by wriggling her bottom inside the Bronkhorstspruit Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. Pictures: Balise Mabona

BRONKHORSTSPRUIT - Members of the public who attended the bail application hearing in the Bronkhorstspruit Magistrate’s Court of a pastor who allegedly raped five women were on Thursday warned against holding up panties as a protest during court proceedings.

The jailed 43-year-old pastor, a national of the Democratic Republic of Congo, faces four charges of rape and two of sexual assault. 

Allegations are that the pastor asked four female congregants to take off their clothes before he smeared them with "anointing oil" and then he raped them.

The charge sheet for the pastor, who can not be named yet because he has not pleaded, indicates that the alleged offences were committed in Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria, between 2015 and 2018. 

The victims were aged between 17 and 30.

Magistrate’s David Shikwambana warned the packed courtroom against hoisting panties, saying such an act was "disrespectful". 

His warning came after several women held up panties inside the court. Others women wore their panties on top of their trousers and wriggled their bottoms in protest shortly before court proceedings started. 

“I’m asking you to think carefully about what respect that is when you raise panties,” implored Magistrate Shikwambana.

“I know this is a sensitive case but I will not allow you to raise panties. As soon as I see a panty, I will make an order for this session to be heard in private.”

The magistrate, however, allowed the protestors to display their placards. He then instructed the court orderly to read into the record all the messages on the placards.

The move prompted defence lawyer advocate Bernard Matome to ask the magistrate if there was any law that allowed him to tell the court orderly to read out the messages on the placards.

“This court cannot do something that is not permitted by a statute. I represented the Marikana employees in Rustenburg [in the North West] but I have never seen something like this,” said Matome.

Shikwambana justified his instruction by saying the placards would not influence the outcome of the bail application.

The matter was postponed to allow the investigating officer to verify the residential address of the accused. 

The accused, who was arrested two weeks ago, will remain in custody until his next appearance on Wednesday.

African News Agency (ANA)