Johannesburg - Rivers of Living Waters Church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo, pictured, has called the commission investigating abuse allegations against him a public court that has already judged him.
The CRL Rights Commission is currently investigating the church following complaints by victims and congregants.
The commission heard two witnesses on Thursday who included a former church elder who alleged that the church bankrupted him.
Andries Moloi told the commission that he joined the Springs branch of the church in 2011 after he saw Zondo preaching on TV.
The elder said he was financially comfortable before going to the church and would allegedly contribute R10 000 every month.
“Sometimes I’d pay R7 000 or R6 000 thinking I was helping the church grow and that God would bless me in return, as the Bishop said,” he testified.
Moloi added that as soon as he started having financial problems, the church allegedly treated him like a nobody despite his previous contributions.
“That is not a church, it’s a business meant to make money for Zondo and his family,” he said.
Another church member, who requested to give testimony away from media presence and not be named, told her story in the boardroom with the commissioners.
Commission chairperson Professor David Luka Mosoma, who provided a summary of the witnesses testimony, said: “She was also a victim of sexual abuse. She’s a married woman and she went to the church because of the need for blessings.”
The chairperson said the woman and her husband were wealthy and they used much of their wealth for the upliftment of the church and that they were allegedly close to the head of the church.
“There was an interest in terms of favouring the lady whenever there were activities in the church and that led to the act of sexual abuse. She used to receive what they call sexual calls in the evening where there are suggestions of one kind or other,” he said.
Mosoma added that the witness said sexual abuse also allegedly happened to her friends and members of her family.
Zondo, responding to the allegations levelled against him, said he believed he was already judged prior to even appearing at the commission. He said he did not know if the hearing was an investigation or an exposé, but would wait for an invite from the commission to appear before it.
The commission, however, confirmed that a letter was already sent to Zondo and if he refused to appear, the commission would send a summons.
The hearings adjourned for this week. However, Mosoma said next week the commission would hear from the people who had allegations levelled against them during the hearings and two people who will provide insight into the allegations of witchcraft and “evil spirits”.