A Cape Town woman has been moved to a place of safety after allegedly being targeted by congregants of the controversial Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) for opening a rape case against their pastor.
Accused Goodwins Mwalughali, 31, a pastor at self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri‚Äôs (pictured) church in Thembalethu, remained in custody yesterday after he made a brief appearance in the George Magistrate‚Äôs Court, where the case was postponed to January 13 for a bail application.
The courtroom was filled to capacity with congregants and Thembalethu residents in attendance.
His church was reportedly torched hours before Mwalughali appeared in court.
The national office of the church in Pretoria has since announced that it has indefinitely suspended Mwalughali.
Southern Cape police spokesperson Christopher Spies said the George Family Violence Child Protection and S_xual offences unit (FCS) arrested Mwalughali on a charge of r_ape of a 23-year-old on January 3.
Spies said circumstances leading to the incident were still under investigation.
A resident who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation said Mwalughali had invited the woman, whose name is being withheld, for an evening prayer session on December 28 at the church, where he allegedly r_aped her.
‚ÄúShe said that during the ‚Äėso-called‚Äô session he was questioning her about her love life and previous relationships. He then forced himself on to her on a couch they were sitting on,‚ÄĚ she said.
The next day, the young woman shared a picture of herself on social media in a hospital bed.
‚ÄúPastors who take advantage of their congregants and r_ape young women in church!
‚ÄúDo you think they should be treated differently from other rapists because they are pastors? He
took a piece of me. He r_aped me at church,‚ÄĚ she posted.
When she opened a case with police, congregants allegedly threatened to attack her in attempts to force her to withdraw the charges.
Before his arrest, Pastor Mwalughali denied r_aping her in an open letter to the church, saying they had consensual s_x.
‚ÄúI write to let you know that it is true that I have been implicated in a rape case. I didn‚Äôt ra_pe her whatever happened between us was a mutual agreement.
‚ÄúI tried to take full responsibility by apologising to her when she started feeling bad and guilty of what we did. Unfortunately it escalated into this big issue now.
‚ÄúBoth of us know no ra_pe took place,‚ÄĚ he wrote.
For the church‚Äôs national office, Pastor Samuel Dulungana said: ‚ÄúThe suspension is in relation to the investigation and subsequent arrest on rape charges against the pastor.
‚ÄúECG South Africa has a zero tolerance policy against Gender-Based Violence and, as a church, we have systems in place to ensure that women and children are protected and safeguarded.
‚ÄúIn this vein, we are following this case with strong interest to ensure justice at the end of the day.‚ÄĚ
Meanwhile, Khayelitsha pastor Siyabulela Matini, accused of raping three girls, will appear at the Khayelitsha Magistrate‚Äôs Court next month.
The 42-year-old head of the Worship of God Church faces three counts of rape of girls aged between 10 and 14 years. Two of the children are siblings.
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