Controversial Bishop Stephan Zondo of the Rivers of Living Water Church. Picture: Facebook
Controversial Bishop Stephan Zondo of the Rivers of Living Water Church. Picture: Facebook

GBV activists slam ANC’s ’unholy’ election campaign gimmick involving alleged televangelist rapist

By Lehlohonolo Mashigo Time of article published Sep 27, 2021

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Johannesburg – Controversial self-proclaimed televangelist and alleged rapist Bishop Stephan Zondo of the Rivers of Living Water Church has become the latest elections campaign gimmick for the governing party.

ANC heavyweights and head of elections Fikile Mbalula and the party’s spokesperson, Pule Mabe, this weekend formed part of the Zondo congregation in the Vaal. The event was a holy communion service at Unitas Park in Vereeniging on Saturday.

Zondo has been in the past accused of multiple rapes by members of his church.

Activists from People Opposing Women Abuse (Powa) said the governing party should not have graced the occasion as it was unholy.

Powa spokesperson Thandiwe McCloy accused the ANC of not taking the high levels of gender-based violence seriously.

“The governing party must not be seen to be aligned to those who perpetrate abuse, especially against women in case they are not sending a message that is helping to fight gender-based violence which is a pandemic in the country,” she said.

McCloy said that although Zondo was not convicted of rape, the allegations were disturbing to have escaped the ANC, adding that the governing party should have distanced itself from individuals who stand accused, convicted or not, of gender-based violence.

“They are not showing enough political will in terms of ensuring that the national strategic plan on gender-based-violence and femicide is implemented as effectively as possible,” she said .

Activists from the Sister Keepers Movement said this was a desperate move from the governing party to garner support in the run-up to local government elections on November 1.

Sisters Keepers Movement and activists Lebo Moemisi said the governing party is desperate for votes.

“They shouldn't be, especially as the leading party, they are hypocrites, how do the victims feel, how should the victims feel?” Moemisi said, adding that people like Zondo should be ostracised.

“Gender-based violence is a pandemic like Covid-19 in this country. The ANC should not be associating with people like Zondo.”

Before his court appearance, Zondo made it clear he would plead guilty to all the charges, including rape, contravention of the Sexual Offences Act and defeating the ends of justice.

It is claimed in the indictment that most of the alleged victims were members of his congregation.

Two out of the 10 charges listed, however, pertain to a child who was either eight or nine years old at the time when she was allegedly repeatedly raped by Zondo.

The State claimed that after a charge of rape was laid against Zondo, a family meeting was held to discuss the situation.

It is said that “during the meeting, the accused admitted the allegations against him and offered to cleanse the complainant by paying her R25 000”.

The State said this was done on the condition that she withdrew the charge against Zondo. The complainant, it is said, declined the offer.

The Star

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