Church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo claims rape accuser wanted him to pay R1m
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Pretoria - Rivers of Living Waters Church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo claimed that the woman who accused him of raping her on three occasions 40 years ago while she was seven, concocted the charges as she and her family wanted him to pay them R1-million.
The woman, who is the first of eight alleged victims to take the stand in Zondo’s Gauteng High Court, Pretoria rape trial, is being cross-examined for nearly a week by Zondo’s advocate.
She claimed that she was raped in either 1980 or 1981 by Zondo, who was then a teenager. The witness, who cannot be identified, said she only had the guts 40 years later to speak in public about what happened to her.
According to her she was afraid of Zondo all these years, but as she is now an adult and a mother, she could no longer “keep their dark secret.”
But Advocate Piet Pistorius, on behalf of Zondo, said this was simply a money-making scheme by the alleged victim and her family, as they knew Zondo was a wealthy man.
The woman earlier testified that after she laid the rape charges against Zondo last year, the uncles called a family meeting, where Zondo was also present.
She claimed that he had burst out in tears and apologised to the family after she told them what had happened to her all those years ago.
According to her they offered her a “consolation prize” consisting of, among others, cattle, but Pistorius said the meeting was called by the witness and her family, as they wanted money to drop the charges. “The meeting was called by you for one reason and one reason only, to get money from my client,” Pistorius said.
He said the witness knew that Zondo was financially very well off.
“The church my client has built, starting off with two people in a room, has grown over two decades and he has many followers. You knew this and that's why you wanted to extort money from him,” Pistorius said.
The witness denied this and said she only attended the meeting and she was prepared to face Zondo, as she wanted justice after all these years.
"They kept on asking what I needed. When he (Zondo) left the meeting to take a call or to go to the bathroom, they pleaded with me to resolve this matter internally. You would swear I was taking the accused to the slaughter house, while all I wanted was justice,” she said.
The witness added that her brother suggested that she should rather withdraw the rape charges. “He told me that God would intervene and punish him (Zondo). But I said I cannot after keeping the secret for 40 years. I now needed justice. I also need closure.”
Pistorius said Zondo will deny that he ever made her any offer to drop the charges. The woman responded: “He should simply tell the truth, because he is a religious man.”