Life in jail for serial rapist 'apostle' who promised to help people get jobs

Ernest Mabuza Journalist
Hlumelo Dywili raped three women and a 17-year-old girl.
Hlumelo Dywili raped three women and a 17-year-old girl.
Image: NPA Communications

The high court in Mbizana sentenced a self-proclaimed apostle to six life terms on Wednesday.

The court found Hlumelo Dywili, 35, guilty on four counts of rape and two of human trafficking.

The singer and lay pastor from Mthatha, who purported to be on a mission to heal the sick and secure jobs for people, also sold products at roadshows in the Eastern Cape and had a base in Mbizana. 

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Luxolo Tyali said between July and August last year, Dywili used Facebook and Inkonjane Community Radio to advertise his businesses. Tyali said Dywili used false testimonies from people who claimed he had helped them.

“One victim, originally from Komani in the Eastern Cape but staying in Cape Town, responded to his Facebook advertisement. Dywili promised her a job and purchased a bus ticket for her travel. 

“Upon her arrival, he raped her in his motor vehicle at his home in Mthatha, before isolating her at his base in Mbizana the following day. In Mbizana she found two more victims who had also been lured to his base with promises of job offers.”

Tyali said he kept the three victims, aged between 23 and 25 — all from poor families which had become financially dependent on him — captive, repeatedly raping them. 

He said apart from the three women, a 17-year-old schoolgirl was the first rape victim to fall prey to Dywili in March 2020. She had been sent to him by her parents for healing after suffering epileptic seizures. 

In that case, Dywili was released on bail. He was arrested last year after the Mbizana rape victims escaped.

Dywili pleaded not guilty, saying they consented to sexual intercourse and were his girlfriends.

The state led evidence from community members who helped the women escape.

Judge Richard Brooks found no compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of life for the offences.


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