File picture: Independent Media

JOHANNESBURG - The rape case against Devine Deliverance Church leader James Thubakgale was postponed in the Mankweng Regional Court in Polokwane on Friday, police in the Limpopo province said.

The court was set to deliver judgment after the 57-year-old Thubakgale stood trial for allegedly raping two girls back in 2012. The two victims were aged 14 and 16 at the time. 

Police spokesman Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said the judgement was postponed due to the pastor being ill. He was remanded in custody.

Thubakgale is also facing further charges of fraud and assault and more than 40 charges of rape in a separate case. He was arrested along with five of his right hand men at the church on multiple charges this week. Mojapelo said police received a barrage of complaints from some of the congregants against Thubakgale.  

''Members started investigating these cases that the pastor and his accomplices allegedly assaulted them [congregants] severely during church services when they failed to make tithe offerings. Others allegedly had to surrender their houses and cars and were told to stay within the church premises. Other allegations included extortion of hard earned millions of rands from pensioners who had just retired," said Mojapelo.

''More than 40 cases of rape and assault are being investigated. The police are also investigating the allegations that the deaths of certain congregants might have been concealed."

African News Agency (ANA)