Church service results in confession and arrest

AN EVENTS organiser confessed in church to the alleged rape of his 15-year-old cousin

He was released on R300 bail by the East London Magistrate’s Court yesterday .

His bail conditions set out by the court provisionally restrict him from returning to the Assemblies of God Church in Sydenham, Port Elizabeth, where he reportedly stood up during a service and made the confession to aghast congregants.

He later handed himself over to Port Elizabeth police.

The court yesterday heard how the alleged rape would never have been reported to the police had the 35-year-old accused not confessed.

It is alleged that the accused – who lives with his family on a farm in Colchester and works in PE – sexually molested his male cousin while visiting East London in October last year. The young complainant failed to report the alleged incident.

The admissibility of the reported confession will be argued in a trial court.

Yesterday, the court heard how the accused had a previous conviction of sexual assault dating back to 1996, for which he received a suspended sentence. The indecent assault had taken place in Springs, where he lived at the time.

Although the state was initially opposed to bail, yesterday, prosecutor Nceba Mahamba said the accused man could be released from custody, but with stringent conditions.

According to the accused’s statement handed in by his defence attorney, Mthimkhulu Mphahlwa , he intends to plead not guilty to the charges.

Mphahlwa, of the Legal Aid Board of South Africa , argued that the alleged confession would not stand in a trial court.

He added: “It (confession) does not carry any weight. My client surrendered himself to the cops. He is not a flight risk.”

Mphahlwa assured the court that his client’s release would not create a public outcry, and that it was in his best interest to be released on bail.

Mahamba conceded that the accused’s previous conviction, although also of a sexual nature, dated back 16 years and should therefore have been expunged from his record.

Mahamba said he had consulted with the investigating officer and they both agreed that bail could be granted. The accused was released on R300 bail on condition that he not return to the Assemblies of God Church pending the outcome of his trial, not interfere with the witnesses – which included members of the congregation – and not contact or intimidate the young complainant.

Supported in court by his mother, the dark-haired accused, wearing a black leather jacket, hung his head and cried after the court’s ruling was read out.

The case was postponed to June 21 for further investigation.