Seshego court adjourns to listen to controversial pastor's previous testimony

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

The Seshego magistrate's court was on Wednesday forced to take a short adjournment to listen to a recording of previous proceedings relating to the testimony of the controversial pastor accused of multiple crimes.

James Thubakgale, leader of the Devine Deliverance Church of Christ in Seshego, Limpopo, was appearing before magistrate Michael Mamabolo for bail application.

The 57-year-old man of the cloth was arrested with five senior members of his church on February 11. His co-accused were however released two weeks ago on R1,000 bail each. They were only facing charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Thubakgale, who has been in police custody since his arrest, is struggling to convince the court, together with his lawyer Johannes Papole, to be freed on bail.

Both the defence lawyer Johannes Papole and prosecutor Michael Phooko argued about the purpose of the visit by Thubakgale and his entourage to Ntsoane village in Burgersfort on November 22 2016.

Phooko said Thubakgale previously told the court that he had gone to the village to officially open his new church. This was denied by Thubakgale, who said he had gone for a thanksgiving event. Thubakgale was supported by Papole, forcing the court to adjourn to listen to the previous testimony by Thubakgale.

After playing the recording in the presence of the court gallery, Phooko was vindicated.

Phooko also indicated that Thubakgale's visit on that particular day was coupled with the celebration of his birthday, an event which was held the previous day. "Does this mean that you were officially opening the church for the second time?" asked Phooko.

Phooko told the court that Thubakgale was in a mood to fight when he visited Ntsoane village the second time, an allegation Thubakgale denied. The accused said he only officially opened the Ntsoane branch once and that he had gone there in a helicopter.

Thubakgale said he was attacked by members of the community when he arrived with his entourage, claiming the attack was orchestrated by Grace Nkosi, a senior member of the church with whom he had a fall-out.

He had previously told the court that Nkosi had mobilised church members against him because she was jealous of his success. Nkosi is among the complainants against Thubakgale after she opened a fraud case against him.

She allegedly donated her vehicle to transport church members to church events but was surprised to learn that the vehicle had been registered in Thubakgale's name, without her knowledge.

The bail application continues.

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