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Cape Town pastor facing multiple murder, rape charges appeals to court for mercy

The sentencing of a Mitchells Plain pastor who unleashed a reign of terror on women from 2013 to 2016 has been postponed to Monday.
The sentencing of a Mitchells Plain pastor who unleashed a reign of terror on women from 2013 to 2016 has been postponed to Monday.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

A Cape Town pastor facing multiple murder and rape charges is appealing to a higher power for mercy.

But it is not the one he preaches about. Pastor Keith Bird of Tafelsig, Mitchells Plain, is facing two counts of murder, five counts of rape, four counts of crimen injuria and one count of theft in the high court in Cape Town.

The cleric allegedly unleashed a reign of terror, targeting defenceless women between 2013 and 2016.

The crimen injuria charges emanate from a video he recorded of his sexual encounter with one of his subordinates at a cleaning company in Mitchells Plain without the woman's knowledge. He allegedly showed the video to four colleagues at the workplace.

Bird allegedly went on an orgy of crime in January 2013 when his fiancée, 36-year-old An-Neisa Bardien, broke their engagement. Unable to take to rejection, he allegedly smothered her to death and concealed her remains in a shallow grave.  

"On 8 January 2013, [Bird] lured the deceased into the bushes near Camp Road in Strandfontein by getting Lizelle Jantjies to call her there," court papers read.

"[Bird] strangled the deceased until she was unconscious . He then crushed her head by hitting her several times with a rock. [Bird] got Lucien Jansen to dig a trench and [he] buried her body there."

Bardien's body was discovered 10 days later. "Post-mortem examination revealed that the deceased died due to blunt head trauma."

Bird's second alleged murder victim was 20-year-old Sharvonne Koense. He allegedly raped her in May 2013, strangled her to death and abandoned her body in the bushes in Tafelsig. Koense's partially dressed body was discovered on the same day and "the post-mortem revealed that the cause of death was consistent with neck compression".

Bird's alleged rape spree continued. He targeted unsuspecting women on social media sites and promised them jobs.

In January 2014,  he met a woman on Mixit and allegedly raped her at her house and threatened to "shock her if she did not co-operate. He also took her Blackberry cell phone without her permission".

According to the prosecution, he returned to the woman's house after the first incident "twice every week from January 2014 until May 2014". He threatened her and her family if she did not comply with his demands.

In May 2014, the cleric allegedly lured another victim, who cannot be named because she is a victim of sexual violence, through Facebook. He promised her a modelling job but took her to bushes in Rocklands, Mitchells Plain, and raped her after threatening her with a knife and a taser.

In 2016, he allegedly raped another victim twice, in January and February, after promising her a job.

Bird appeared in court on Monday and Judge President John Hlophe postponed the matter. Eric Ntabazalila, spokesperson for the prosecution in the Western Cape said: "The case against Keith Bird returns to court next Monday and there is a possibility of a plea and sentencing agreement."

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