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Sex crimes trial of Rivers of Living Waters Church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo off to slow start

Rivers of Living Waters Church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo in court. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Rivers of Living Waters Church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo in court. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 23, 2021

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The sex crimes trial of controversial Rivers of Living Waters Church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo is off to a slow start, as his defence team indicated that they wanted a postponement.

Khelu Nondwango, the advocate appearing for Zondo, at the start of Monday's proceedings in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, told Judge Peet Johnson that the defence team insisted on a pretrial conference to be held before the prosecution jumped into the main trial.

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The prosecution indicated that they were ready to proceed and that the witnesses were at court. Prosecutor Jennifer Cronje said she will oppose a postponement.

Judge Johnson pointed out that the law did not prescribe that a pretrial conference had to be held before a criminal trial could resume.

But Nondwango insisted and said there were issues to be sorted out before the trial could commence. He mentioned that the defence intended calling expert witnesses and that this process had to be streamlined via a pretrial conference.

Zondo meanwhile looked relaxed as he sat in the dock for a few minutes, before the case was stood down until after the tea break. His advocate insisted on handing affidavits up to the court after the break to strengthen their application for a postponement.

Zondo is facing 10 charges, including rape, several in terms of the sexual offences act as well as defeating the ends of justice.

It is claimed that the bulk of his alleged victims were members of his church. According to the indictment, Zondo, under the guise of wanting to pray for the victims, lured them to his office where he allegedly raped and/or sexually assaulted them.

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Zondo has from the start vehemently denied these allegations and earlier said he welcomed his day in court to clear his name.

Several of his followers have meanwhile gathered outside court, singing songs and sporting placards saying that "the body of Christ is under attack."

A heavy police presence is visible inside and outside the court.

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Pretoria News

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