Bishop Zondo allegedly solicited sex from female congregants, broke marriages
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Johannesburg - More former church members and victims of Rivers of Living Waters Church accused Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo of exploiting them and using his position as a clergyman to solicit sex from female congregations.
The Bishop is said to be a Casanova whose ways have led to the breakdown of marriages in his church. The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) is investigating the church following complaints that were brought before it by victims and congregants.
The commission heard three witnesses on Wednesdy, including the ex-husband of a current member who accused Zondo of using his position to solicit sex from female congregants which led to the breakdown of several marriages among his fold.
Maqala Konote told the commission that his ex-wife, who is still a member of the church, was a member of five different committees and as a result spent a lot of time at the church. He added that his ex-wife would allegedly frequently receive long phone calls from Zondo.
The aggrieved husband said his ex-wife, who was unemployed, had entrepreneurial aspirations and would ask him for money to start a business. Konote said he would borrow money from the bank but later discovered that she used some of the money for “deliverance classes”.
After he gave his ex-wife the money, she allegedly went for an overnight prayer session in Rustenburg from 6pm to 6am but she only returned home late the following day. Konote said he questioned her about the money and went through her bag from the trip.
“Inside the bag were things to seduce someone, like lingerie and massage oils. I questioned her and she said ‘You’ve cheated before’,” the witness said.
An enraged Konote then allegedly slapped his ex-wife and the couple engaged in a physical fight. Konote said he was arrested. However, the case was eventually dismissed.
Konote told the commission that subsequent to the couple’s fight, he went through his ex-wife’s WhatsApp messages with Zondo and discovered that his wife had sent saucy naked pictures to the church leader.
“That broke my heart,” the witness said.
The witness added that he called Zondo and asked for a meeting between the men and their spouses, however, the church leader did not respond to his calls afterwards. The couple subsequently divorced.
Former church member Soenkie Selepe told the commission that he joined the Randfontein branch of the church in 2013, seeking assistance for his marital problems with his now former wife.
Selepe said he had just left his job but that he would give money to the church to pay for equipment and instruments.
The church member’s commitment to the church resulted in the branch pastor suggesting that Selepe meet with Zondo.
“I went to see the pastor and he said for me to see the Bishop, I would need to buy a cow. I went and bought two,” he said.
A one-on-one meeting was subsequently organised for the next month and he allegedly coughed up a further R10 000 but the meeting was less than five minutes long. The witness said he eventually moved to Ekurhuleni and started a mining supply business. However, the business was failing.
“Every time I went to get assistance on my life issues, I was told that I needed to give (something) and I would give. I don’t know how many times I did the blessing exchange but it was minimum R1 000 and maximum R10 000,” the witness said.
Selepe told the commission that his financial situation steadily deteriorated until his cars were almost repossessed.
“I called a pastor and asked him to pray for me and we prayed together, but in praying he said ‘God says you must give’, but I said ‘what do I give with? I’m telling you now my stuff is being repossessed and my business is failing. Where do I get the money to give?’” he said.
The commission also heard from Reverend Andile Mali who described Zondo as a danger to society.