Benjamin Bheki Dingiso, the leader of Arise and Shine Gospel Church, (51), has appeared in the Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, yesterday on 31 counts of rape, sexual grooming of children, sexual assault, and attempted rape.
Dingiso served as a pastor in the church, and one of his duties included offering spiritual and emotional support to the congregation.
According to reports, between 2009 and 2021, eight young males, who ranged in age from 15 to 20, had personal encounters with the pastor while attending the church.
They claimed that Dingiso told them they had the training needed for the prophetic gifts that God had given them.
In a statement issued by the NPA’s Phindi Louw Mjonondwane, it is explained that some of the complainants testified that the accused had sexually molested them several times.
“They said the accused at times would squeeze them in a hug and proceeded to kiss them, while requesting that they massage his private parts.
“This, the State alleges, induced the boys to meet him in his office where he sexually violated and/or raped them after telling them that he had to bond with them physically and spiritually while naked for them to understand their prophetic gift.
“Some of the boys were suffering emotionally and were sent to the accused for counselling when he took advantage of their vulnerabilities and allegedly raped or sexually assaulted them.”
In his defence, Dingiso testified that he had never sexually molested the boys.
He told the court that he only offered prophetic training to them and denied the allegations made by the complainants.
He further said that the former church leader was attempting to defame him to steal his church.
The trial continues.