Pastor in rape case denied bail

ANGRY community members packed the Newcastle magistrate's court gallery yesterday when a pastor accused of molesting and raping 15 boys from Vezubuhle village appeared for a bailapplication.

ANGRY community members packed the Newcastle magistrate's court gallery yesterday when a pastor accused of molesting and raping 15 boys from Vezubuhle village appeared for a bailapplication.

Church members, parents and the community braved the chilly weather and demanded that Pastor Michael Hlongwane, 46, be denied bail.

A protest that had been planned for outside the court was abandoned because of heavy rain.

Hlongwane did not look at the gallery, where some parents sobbed. He appeared before magistrate Phillip Hecther.

His legal representative from the Legal Aid Board, Bonisiwe Gasa, told thecourt that Hlongwane did not want to proceed with a bail application.

Gasa said Hlongwane had opted to abandon the bail application, as "he was making arrangements for alternative accommodation in Pietermaritzburg" because his life was under threat.

Prosecutor Eddie Mbewu said the state would have opposed the bail application, whether or not Hlongwane had abandoned it.

The alleged victims' defence asked the court to grant an extension to collect pending statements from other victims.

The court agreed to that and Hlongwane was remanded in custody until July 14.

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