Lawrence Thapelo Peterson, who is a pastor at the Orion International Church and also a funeral undertaker at Tusano Funeral Service, appeared in court on Friday, where he applied for bail. Picture: Soraya Crowie

Kimberley - Shocking details of the alleged rape of a young girl by a 49-year-old pastor over a period of seven years has emerged in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court.

Lawrence Thapelo Peterson, 49, who is a pastor at the Orion International Church and also a funeral undertaker at Tusano Funeral Service in Trompsburg, was arrested earlier this month and appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Friday, where he applied for bail.

Peterson is facing allegations of raping a now 13-year-old Kimberley girl from 2011, when she was only six years old, until 2018.

While testifying in his bail application, Peterson stated that he “knew the complainant (the girl) very well” and that she “grew up in front of him”.

“She (the complainant) is a child from Trompsburg but now lives in Kimberley. With her family, she would often come and visit at my house, sometimes for the weekend. Her grandmother is my spiritual mother and always there when I need advice. She and I are like brother and sister,” Peterson told the court.

When State prosecutor Edwin Malawane told Peterson that the investigating officer would testify that he (Peterson) allegedly tied up the six-year-old victim during one rape incident and threatened to lock her in the mortuary fridge with corpses should she say anything about it, Peterson briefly placed his hands together, closed his eyes and lifted his head as if in prayer, before saying that this was the first he had “heard of any of this”.

During the bail application, Sergeant Tanya Serfontein, from the Galeshewe Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences unit, gave testimony on behalf of the case’s investigating, opposing bail.

Serfontein said that the alleged rape incidents happened from 2011, when the victim was six years old and living in Trompsburg, and until 2018, when she was 13 years old and living in Kimberley.

“According to the victim, the first rape incident happened in 2011, while she was staying in Trompsburg. She alleges that she was staying at her grandmother’s house when the accused asked if she and her brother could go to his place of work (Tusanao Funeral Services) with him. She said they drove in the accused’s Kombi and when they arrived at his place of work he told her brother to wait in the Kombi, while he gave him his tablet to play with.

“The accused and the girl then went inside. There he started undressing her. She tried to run away but felt that the office door was locked. She then tried to scream but the accused took a cloth and placed it over her mouth. He then tied her hands and feet to a chair and also blindfolded her. She could hear he was undoing his belt and could then feel him on top of her. He put his penis in her vagina and started making up and down movements. She started to cry.

“After raping her, he undid the ties and told her to get dressed, wash her face and go wait with her brother. He then told them that they were going to a tuck shop to buy sweets. They went home afterwards,” Serfontein testified from the girl’s statement.

She added that the girl claimed that later that evening she awoke to find Peterson busy pulling down her pyjamas and panties.

Serfontein went on to say that, according to the victim’s statement, these incidents happened every time they visited Peterson’s house.

She further gave details of another alleged rape incident that occurred in 2018, at the victim’s house in Roodepan, Kimberley, where Peterson allegedly woke her up in a room where she was sleeping with her brother and sister and told her to come with him to the TV room.

“According to the complainant, she told him ‘no, she is sleeping’ but he forced her to the sofa before pulling down her pyjamas and raping her,” Serfontein stated.

She added that the girl also mentioned that Peterson had threatened to “lock her up in the mortuary fridge with corpses” should she tell anyone about the alleged rapes.

The bail application was on Friday postponed to today and Peterson remained in custody, where he has been since his arrest on February 8 2019.

Magistrate Kubashnie Padayachee is presiding over the matter.

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