Case of church leader (50) accused of marrying pupil (15) postponed

The 50-year-old Eastern Cape lay preacher, arrested recently for marrying an underage girl in rural Libode, will spend a few more days behind bars after his case was postponed yesterday.

Sowetan's sister publication, the Dispatch previously reported that the victim’s 66-year-old grandmother had also been arrested, but was released on R500 bail.
Sowetan's sister publication, the Dispatch previously reported that the victim’s 66-year-old grandmother had also been arrested, but was released on R500 bail.
Image: 123RF/Thawornnurak

The 50-year-old Eastern Cape lay preacher, arrested recently for marrying an underage girl in rural Libode, will spend a few more days behind bars after his case was postponed on Thursday.

The suspect, who runs his own church, faces statutory rape, statutory assault and abduction charges. His alleged victim is a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

Sowetan's sister publication, the Dispatch, previously reported that the victim’s 66-year-old grandmother had also been arrested, but was released on R500 bail after she appeared in the Libode magistrate’s court last week.

On Thursday, the suspect’s lawyer, Sinethemba Sogayise, told the court that his client had two alternative addresses: in Mjobeni village in Libode where he ran his businesses, and another in Ngqutyana village in Port St Johns, where he originally hails from.

The case was postponed to July 13 for a formal bail application.

The state, meanwhile, maintained that it would oppose bail.

In an interview with the Dispatch on Thursday, women, youth and people with disabilities deputy minister in the presidency, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, lamented those who used culture to abuse children.

She said the Children’s Act was explicit in that children needed to be protected at all costs. She said the alleged crime was not only a violation of the act but the constitution of the country itself.

“This is a serious crime. It is not like stealing a peach from a tree. They (criminal justice system) should move with speed in dealing with it.” 

Mkhize said in some pockets of the Eastern Cape, as in the OR Tambo district, there were still people who abused young girls in the name of culture. “Sadly, the victim’s future is destroyed forever. Let's have conversations at local level about this.”

She said it was disheartening that, while churches were supposed to be at the forefront of moral regeneration, church leaders were often arrested for sexual crimes.

The Dispatch reported that the suspect had been  arrested in KwaMlomo village where he was found with church members and his underage “bride”.

At the time, the grandmother told journalists that the suspect had promised to pay lobola for the young girl, and she had given the marriage her blessing because it was her granddaughter’s wish to marry the man.

She also confirmed that she had been a staunch member of his church for the past three years.

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