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Rape accused pastor has two different identities

Pastor James Thubakgale faces rape, assault and fraud charges.
Pastor James Thubakgale faces rape, assault and fraud charges.

Supporters of controversial Seshego pastor James Thubakgale are protesting outside the local magistrate's court to demand his release.

Wearing white T-shirts and mostly women, they are singing and dancing as they urge Thubakgale's lawyer Johannes Papole to convince the court to release the man of the cloth. "Mr Papole, bolela le court e bushe kgoshi ya rena" - a Sotho song loosely translated meaning "Papole convince the court to release our king".

Ironically, at the entrance of the court buildings, those opposed to the granting of bail to Thubakgale have placed a mock coffin made of a cardbox, with panties and flowers used as wreaths on top of it.

Inside the packed courtroom, there are people wearing different colours of various political organisations, including ANC, DA and EFF, who have come to listen to proceedings.

Thubakgale 57, who on Thursday was wearing the same suit he wore when he appeared in court on Wednesday, took to the witness stand to be cross-examined by his lawyer (Papole) in respect of the bail application. Papole first produced a document detailing Thubakgale's two different identities, with the same surname.

The first one identified the pastor as Madidimalo James Thubakgale while the second identified him as Devine Miccael (sic) Thubakgale. The pastor said his original identity was Madidimalo James Thubakgale but that he changed his identity on November 5 2014.

When asked by Papole why he is now using Madidimalo James, Thubakgale said he did not want the court to be confused.

"I decided to use my previous identity so that I don't confuse the court, especially taking into account the fact that I still have a pending case against me," he said.

He said he assumed the new identity after registering it "legally" at the offices of the department of home affairs in Polokwane. An official document to confirm the alteration of Thubakgale's forenames was also produced in court, which magistrate Michael Mamabolo accepted as part of the exhibit. The court  adjourned as it needed to make copies of the documents.

Thubakgale stands accused of five counts of rape, one of fraud and another five of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

He was arrested on February 11  with five senior members of his church, who have since been released on R1,000 bail each.

He has also been found guilty of the rape of two girls, aged 14 and 16, judgment of which is expected to be handed down in the Mankweng regional court on March 22.

Proceedings are continuing

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