Pastor prayed for forgiveness every time he raped a young girl
Survivors give chilling accounts of their lives under the spell of sex-obsessed cleric
“Forgive us for our sins… Our sins… And wash us with the blood of Jesus Christ‚” he would say.
Three of the pastor’s victims shared their torment and pain at the hands of the pastor at a dialogue hosted by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic (CRL) Communities on Thursday.
The group was holding a discussion with survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of religious leaders and traditional healers. The victims told their stories in the hope that others who were abused in the same way would seek help.
They described living as if under a spell‚ afraid that they would die if they went against the pastor's wishes.
They likened the man of the cloth to Jesus Christ.
Whenever he had had sex with one of many young women in KwaZulu-Natal‚ the pastor would make a lengthy prayer to God for forgiveness.
“He prayed and I was soon to find out that this was the daily prayer he would make: ‘Forgive us for our sins… Our sins… And wash us with the blood of Jesus Christ’‚” said Nonhlanhla*.
She was just 13 years old and enthusiastic about church and singing when she joined the pastor’s congregation.
By the time she was 14‚ he had noticed her vocal talent and instructed one of the church‘s women to give her his phone numbers‚ she said.
They communicated daily‚ with him questioning her about her expectations from him‚ her family life and what‚ at the time‚ was her non-existent love life.
“[Having sex with him] was my life for the next two-and-a-half years‚ except when I was on my cycle‚” said Nonhlanhla ‚ who is now 22.
“He told the church about how much he had helped me. He took us out of the country [to go and sing with the other singing women] but we paid for every single thing‚” she said.
Another girl‚ Thulisile*‚ who came under the pastor's wing with her sister‚ recalled how the two of them were lured to live at his home under the pretence that he would musically train them. Weeks after they arrived at the house and after noticing the other girls’ strange behaviour towards the man they referred to as “Daddy”‚ they too each got invited to the pastor’s bedroom for a one-on-one consultation.
“He did what he wanted to do and then‚ when he was done‚ he prayed and asked God to forgive us. That made me angry. I asked [myself] what did I do? I did not sin. He was the one who sinned. I was confused‚ angry and scared of what he might do because of the powers I had seen in him‚” the now 23-year-old said.
Her sister‚ Thabisile‚ claimed that she had felt pity for the pastor because the corridor talk was that this was his weakness and he could not help himself. He needed the help of God.
On the day she was summoned to the pastor’s bedroom‚ she alleged she had received instruction from his personal assistant to clean up.
“I wanted to watch Generations that day but I could not because he had called me. The assistant told me to bath because ‘Daddy is calling you’. I prepared myself for what would happen although I hoped it would not happen‚” she said.
She bathed and went up to his room. “So I went up [stairs] clean. He told me to come to bed. He told me to put a towel on the bed where I would lie‚” the 23-year-old said.
“He was disgusted by me yet wanted to pleasure himself through me. That disturbed me. He told me to take off my skirt and I did as he said.”
She alleged that he raped her‚ telling her to move her body‚ but‚ in her youthful innocence‚ she couldn’t oblige.
“At the time he was on top of me‚ I did not feel pain for myself. I blocked everything because I did not want to get angry or to make God angry because I am angry. I felt pain for him and asked God to help him because I was told he cannot help himself. I was pleading with God: ‘Please help him’‚” said Thabile.
After her ordeal‚ the pastor offered a prayer.
“He prayed that God should have mercy on us. He recited Psalms 51. For me‚ it is hard to read that chapter. It is hard to read some chapters in the Bible because… when I read them‚ I remember what he did. I remember feeling helpless.‚” she said‚ breaking down.
The mother of the two girls also addressed the commission‚ describing how she had fought to rescue her daughters‚ only for them to repeatedly run away from home‚ heading back to the pastor.
The girls said that they did so for the protection of their mother‚ whom they were told would die if she went against the will of God.
Their mother‚ Susan‚ said she had always suspected the girls had fallen victim to the pastor.
“I suspected that this was happening but I said no‚ my children were not touched. I only got confirmation that this happened yesterday‚” she said.
The woman detailed how she felt her children had viewed her as being demonic and how they had felt uncomfortable as she tried to join them in prayer.
“I feared my own kids would kill me‚” she said‚ adding that the pastor had split her family apart.
She detailed how the police had on one occasion fetched her from her house and taken her to the church where she was forced to relinquish authority of her daughters to the pastor in front of the congregation.
“That was the worst day‚” she said.
“I was told to give up on my children and I knew I would not leave there alive if I did not‚” she alleged.
Her daughters were among the scores of church members who had sang the chorus of the pastor’s innocence following his arrest.
The girls said they did so out of fear but now hoped to help others get out of his control.
* The publication has changed the names of victims and their relatives in this article. The pastor is currently behind bars.