Journalists attacked as alleged sex-pest pastor is denied bail
Drama unfolded at the Klerkdorp Magistrates Court on Tuesday when members of Jehovah Shamma International Ministries attacked journalists.
Emotions ran high in the packed court room where the Jouberton Bishop‚ Phefo Jonas Pitso‚ 49‚ was denied bail. One follower fainted and others sobbed uncontrollably as the presiding officer described Pitso's reasons for his bail application were weak.
The married father of three told the court he had an unemployed wife and was the only breadwinner at home‚ and that he had a salary of R4‚000 per month from a church he started 22 years ago.
He said he had no knowledge of the 12 women who have accused him of rape and sexual assault.
During proceedings‚ the state advocate for sexual offences and community affairs‚ Riekie Krause‚ had asked the court to not to grant Pitso bail.
"We believe we have a strong case against Pitso. For his safety and safety of the witnesses we ask that he mustn't get bail‚” said Krause.
Bail was denied‚ and the case will go back to court on May 7 as the state needed more time to investigate and comb through all Pitso’s cell phone and computer‚ believing that believe more evidence could be obtained on these devices.
Shortly after the matter was adjourned‚ members of the church attacked journalists. One congregant had to be stopped by police as he tried to grab a TimesLIVE journalist’s notebook and phone. The man demanded that the reporter shouldn’t take pictures of the congregants nor of Pitso.
Other church members hurled verbal abuse at reporters‚ accusing them of being paid by the women accusing Pitso of the sexual offences.
After the proceedings‚ EFF provincial command team member Dan Sephelle said the party – which has been vocal over this matter - were happy with the outcome.
“We believe that people like him must set an example to our people and not take advantage of them‚” he said.
While members of the church didn't want to speak to the media‚ but one woman shouted: “All those women liked what the Bishop did to them. Why did they keep quite all these years? Our bishop didn't rape anyone.”