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'Sex-pest' bishop assaulted behind bars for having a phone

Tefo Pitso's lawyers say he needed urgent medical attention.
Tefo Pitso's lawyers say he needed urgent medical attention.

Alleged sex-pest bishop Tefo Pitso of Jehovah Shamma International Ministries was allegedly beaten to a pulp in prison after being accused of illegally possessing a cellphone.

The self-proclaimed prophet is being held in custody while facing trial for 12 rape and sexual assault charges. The incident allegedly occurred at Potchefstroom Prison on Tuesday when members of correctional service's specialised unit, emergency support team (EST), were searching the facility for contraband.

According to an application for external medical treatment sent to the head of the facility Sipho Mahlangu by Baloyi-Ntsako Attorneys, Pitso was allegedly brutally attacked by five members of EST.

They claimed that EST members, commonly known as the Amaberete of prisons, forced Pitso to admit ownership of the cellphone found in the possession of his co-inmate, and ignored comments from other fellow inmates that the owner of the cellphone was not in at the time of the search but was attending court.

"During the said assault, his head was pressed down between the legs of one official while others held his hands, and pressed him down from his back on his shoulders.

"The other officer beat him on the back bone until his spine was severely affected, and worse in that, he has an existing condition on his spinal cord," reads the letter in part.

They also claimed that the incident was a personal attack based on the alleged utterances the EST members made during the alleged assault.

The lawyers, according to the letter, claim that the officers said "we have been looking for you" and "we are not done with you" during the incident.

They said Pitso immediately reported the matter but did not receive medical attention as the only doctor available at the time was for a different section of the prison.

The lawyer's letter stated that a doctor came to consult with their client more than 24 hours after the matter was reported and failed to conduct an X-Ray on him, instead gave Pitso hypertension medication.

"Should our client not receive necessary required external treatment forthwith, we hold instructions to proceed and approach the competent court for the relief of same on urgent basis," reads the letter.

Departmental spokesperson Tshidi Mapole confirmed that a cellphone was found during a routine security search.

"On July 30 2019, the EST officials conducted a routine security search in the cells where a cellphone was found. The following morning the head of the centre received a complaint from Pitso's lawyer that Pitso was assaulted.

"The department immediately instituted an investigation into the matter," she said.

She said Pitso was taken to an internal hospital and was seen by a doctor.

"The medical staff provided him with medical treatment after observing that he had bruises on the back."

Mapole said in addition to their internal investigations, Pitso opened a criminal case with the police.

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