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Rape pastor trial: Victim’s brother turns hostile witness

By Thandeka Moyo

BULAWAYO – The trial of a controversial pastor from Cowdray Park suburb in Bulawayo who allegedly turned a congregant, 16, into a sex slave and infected her with HIV and genital warts, took a new twist yesterday when the girl’s brother told the court that his sister made up the rape story.

Greatness Tapfuma, 33, the founder of Kingdom Rulers International Church
Greatness Tapfuma, 33, the founder of Kingdom Rulers International Church

The man, who cannot be named to protect the victim, took to the witness stand in defence of Greatness Tapfuma, 33, the founder of Kingdom Rulers International Church.

Giving his testimony before regional magistrate Chrispen Mberewere, the man said his sister was of loose morals and had contracted HIV way before she met Tapfuma.

“I’m very close to my sister and her mother, my step-mom. The truth is as a family we knew long back that she had HIV way before we started going to Pastor Tapfuma’s church.

My sister was also involved with many boyfriends at a time and though I didn’t witness anything, I’m sure she was having sex with them,” said the man stunning the gallery.

“My mother lied when she said she started going to Pastor Tapfuma’s church in August, I think it was in October or earlier since I was not there. Her status has been positive since last year and there is no way the pastor could have infected her.”

The man’s girlfriend, who happens to be the complainant’s best friend, followed suit and told the court the victim was sexually active.

“We went together to test for HIV last year and she tested positive. She had boyfriends and at one point when we were about to leave her home to town, her father told her to bring groceries though he hadn’t given her any money.”

Mberewere remanded Tapfuma, who is on $300 bail, to September 1 when more witnesses are expected to testify. Tapfuma, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape, was recently acquitted of raping two other congregants.

In the latest case, it is claimed that his emissaries attempted to bribe his victim with a house, a car or cash. Tapfuma’s victim said she decided to speak out on the abuse after she was treated for genital warts early this year.

“I used to attend his church with my parents and one day he told me that my family was haunted by evil spirits which would kill my father. He called me to his house and when I got there he proposed love to me and I turned him down,” said the girl.

“He then approached my father and asked if I could go to his home for prayers and my father agreed. I went to his house and he immediately said my father was going to die within that week if he didn’t pray for him.”

The girl added: “I started crying and begged him to pray and save my father from death as a prophet who could see the spirit. He then said I was supposed to fall in love with him if I needed any assistance from him in connection with blocking my father’s death”.

According to the girl, Tapfuma moved closer to her after she indicated that she desperately needed his assistance.

“He then started undressing me as I was crying over what he had just told me (that my father could die anytime, that day or even after a week). He then ordered me to lie facing upwards on the carpet, opened my legs and raped me. I tried resisting but he said if I failed to co-operate, my father would die,” she said.

The court also heard that Tapfuma ordered the girl to keep the sexual act a secret as divulging it would provoke the death spirit to kill her father immediately.

“I returned home and didn’t tell anyone as I feared for my father’s death and wanted Tapfuma’s prayers to work. From that day, he started asking to see me thrice a week and would rape me all the time. On a certain day in November, he had sex with me till I started bleeding and he wiped my privates suggesting he would keep the towel he used.”

The girl said she started noticing some blisters on her privates and reported the matter to her mother. Tapfuma, through his lawyer Bruce Israel Masamvu of Dube-Tachiona, Tsvangirai law firm, told the court that the girl had connived with her parents and a rival pastor to fabricate the allegations.

“I’m a pastor who renders deliverance sessions, casting out demons and extricating victims of Satanism. I’ve a video which shows this girl confessing that she is a Satanist during an all-night prayer I conducted in my church,” said Tapfuma.

The Chronicle is in possession of the video. The Chronicle