Hearings into allegations of abuse against Rivers of Living Waters Ministries leader, Bishop Stephen Zondo, are underway in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) is conducting the probe.
Wednesday is day two of the hearings. On Tuesday, five witnesses took to the stand.
Former member of the church Solly Poopedi accused Zondo of using umuthi (traditional medicine) to gain power over his believers. He says the muthi also helps him exploit them sexually and financially, among other things.
Poopedi alleges that Zondo is highly connected and works with high ranking politicians, like MECs and Ministers who also bow down to him.
Zondo’s niece, Meisie Raename, was the second witness. She says the Bishop raped her when she was less than ten years of age. Zondo is said to have been between 18 and 19 years old at the time of the crime.
Raename described the incident as traumatic, as Zondo would call her among other children to come wash her socks but she would know “here comes pain.”
Bishop Zondo’s sister, Khabo Zondo, has accused the Rivers of Living Waters leader of murder, saying he killed her father and two other people who knew about his shenanigans whom she could not reveal names.
Former youth member at the church, Bongi Mofokeng, is among other women who say they were raped by the Bishop.
She says she was promised R75 000 after being sexually violated by Zondo at a hotel in Southgate, near Soweto.
“If you tell anyone about what happened here your marriage will end and your closest family member will die,” Mofokeng says Zondo told her.
Former secretary of the church, Sizakele Poopedi, was the last witness to assume the hot seat. She says Bishop Zondo uses offerings of the church to fund his lifestyle not the organisation.
“The minimum fee for consultation with the Bishop is R10 000, just to say.”
The hearings continue at the CRL Commission in Braamfontein and Bishop Zondo is expected to tell his side of the story between today and tomorrow, when the proceedings wrap. – Reporty by VOW FM News’ Buhle Mbele