Bishop Zondo’s senior female pastor tells Commission that his rape accusers are lying
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Johannesburg - More victims of alleged rape at the hands of Rivers of Living Waters Ministries leader Archbishop Stephen Zondo have come forward as a senior pastor denies the allegations.
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) resumed investigative hearings on Monday into the Rivers of Living Waters Ministries, which started in November.
This comes after Zondo and senior pastor Lydia Malete lost a bid and an appeal in the South Gauteng High Court in December to interdict the commission from continuing with the hearings.
A woman, who cannot be named, told the commission that Zondo allegedly called her every day between 2011 and 2018 because she has prophetic gifts.
The witness told the commission that she was part of the church’s first group of prayer warriors, most of whom were women and had the gift of prophecy.
She said that in 2014 she began noticing red flags about Zondo when prayer warriors started leaving or alleged that Zondo had acted inappropriately.
She said that in April 2018 one of the original prayer warriors told her that she was leaving the church because she was tired of having to perform fellatio (oral sex) for Zondo.
“In November 2018, I started having my own dreams where the Lord was saying to me that I need to start retracting myself. I would stop going to church or go whenever I wanted,” she said.
The witness said in December 2018 Zondo allegedly called her into his office, saying he wanted to pray for her marriage. However, he allegedly prayed for her to act on her sexual feelings towards him.
“It was a red flag because how can I express my sexual feelings to him? The next thing he forced his penis into my mouth,” the victim said. However, she pulled away and ran off.
She added that she felt betrayed because Zondo knew that she was a victim of rape prior to the incident.
The former church member said she did not return to the church until January 2019, when she and her husband had wanted to confront Zondo.
“He said the spirit of rape that is in me … got activated and overpowered him so that he can be able to do what he did to me,” the witness said.
Meanwhile, senior pastor Malete was also called to answer to allegations.
In November, The Star reported that Malete’s niece said Zondo allegedly raped her at a hotel in Southgate and offered her R75 000 for her silence.
“While she was still staying with me (the victim) disclosed multiple rapes that she experienced in her life but she never said anything about the bishop,” Malete told the commission.
The senior pastor added that she heard that Zondo allegedly raped her in 2012 when the victim appeared on community radio station Thetha FM.
“That was the first time I heard about the story that the bishop took her (in) a black Chrysler somewhere but when she was telling (me) about the exact same scenario she said to me that it was a gospel artist,” she said.
Malete said that after her niece’s interview on radio she went to campus community radio station VUT FM to refute the claims made against Zondo. She said she went to VUT FM because she was raised in a family where she was taught to never attack men or women of God.
“I wasn’t doing it for the favour of Bishop Zondo but for (the victim) because this is how she was going to have a curse in her life and never succeed because she spoke lies (about) the bishop,” the pastor said.
Malete maintained the same stance towards the other rape allegations made against Zondo and the allegations that the church was threatening and cursing alleged victims.
“Until all of these allegations are proven, whoever says whatever about the bishop, I know they are after the man of God,” Malete said.