By Mashudu Netsianda
Disgraced pastor and founder of Kingdom Rulers International Church in Bulawayo, Greatness Tapfuma (36), who turned a 16-year-old congregant into a sex slave, has approached the Supreme Court challenging the dismissal of his appeal against conviction and sentence by the High Court.
Tapfuma made headlines in 2015 after he raped the teenage congregant and infected her with HIV and genital warts, claiming to be driving out a death demon that wanted to kill her father.
Tapfuma through his lawyer, Mr Bruce Masamvu of Dube-Tachiona and Tsvangirai Legal Practitioners, has filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court barely two weeks after Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi dismissed his application in which he was challenging both conviction and sentence.
Tapfuma of Cowdray Park suburb was in 2015 convicted of two counts of rape by Bulawayo regional magistrate Mr Crispen Mberewere.
He was sentenced to an effective 25 years in jail after five years were conditionally suspended for five years.
In his grounds of appeal, Tapfuma said in assessing the evidence and the credibility of witnesses, the judge failed to pay attention to the timelines in the matter.
“As a result of this omission, both the learned judge and the trial court reached conclusions of fact that cannot reasonably be supported on the record,” he argued.
Tapfuma said the judge erred by declining to order that the custodial sentences in the two counts run concurrently in light of evidence that the offences were inextricably linked in terms of common intent, locality and time.
He further argued that the judge failed to appreciate the significance and the discrepancies between the evidence of the two witnesses who testified.
Tapfuma said the evidence on record did not support conviction, arguing that it was fraught with contradictions and inconsistencies.
He wants an order quashing his conviction and setting aside his sentence. In dismissing Tapfuma’s appeal, Justice Mathonsi said the interests of justice dictate that ‘false men of God’ should be incarcerated for lengthy prison terms to protect society from their evil acts.
He described Tapfuma as a sexual pervert who sought to quench his sexual appetite by raping an innocent girl in the most callous and unimaginable manner.
According to the State papers, between October and November 2015, Tapfuma called the girl to his home and raped her in exchange for prayers for her father who he said was facing death.
After raping the girl, Tapfuma ordered her to keep the sexual act a secret as divulging it would provoke the death spirit to kill her father immediately.
The girl began to notice some blisters on her privates.
As her condition worsened in December, she tested HIV positive and that was when her mother asked how she got infected.
She then revealed what had been happening and a police report was made leading to Tapfuma’s arrest.
A church elder approached her and tried to entice her to drop the charges in exchange for a house, a car or cash but she refused. The Chronicle