Shembe man on rape charge

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

A member of the Shembe church accused of raping a 13-year-old worshipper has been granted bail of R900.

The 29-year-old man appeared in the Hluhluwe magistrates' court yesterday.

The alleged rape is said to have happened a fortnight ago.

The suspect was arrested after church elders called in the police.

Police reports indicate that the victim and the suspect were attending a service at Mfanela Reserve Mountains.

Women members of the church are now concerned for their safety.

A woman, who spoke to Sowetan on condition of anonymity, said women worshippers were afraid and wanted a long jail term for the suspect because he had damaged the church's image.

"How safe are we if such things happen during times of worship?

"Does it mean that now we need to praise the Lord under police guard?" she asked.

Edward Ximba, a church elder, said the church had taken steps to ensure that male church members did not abuse women worshippers.

"We firmly believe in the rule of law. Anyone breaking the law must be dealt with harshly," said Ximba.

The case has been postponed to January.