By Aphiwe Ngowapi
A 35-year-old traditional healer and pastor of the St John’s Apostolic Church in New Town location, accused of raping a young woman, has made a few brief appearances in court on 24 and 25 April.
On 24 April, the bail hearing was postponed to the next day because there was no water or electricity. The next day, the hearing was further postponed to Friday, 28 April.
The accused’s family and church members, mostly women, went to support him in court.
On 25 April, school learners, their teachers, community members, and traditional healers gathered outside the Magistrates Court in support of the victim. The crowd chanted “No bail” as they demanded that the accused should not be granted bail and that justice must be served.
“We came to support [the rape victim]. The person charged with rape is supposedly getting bail today, and we are here to appeal against the court for the fact that the culprit should not be getting bail,” said Mary Waters High School learner Charles Botha.
Makhanda traditional healer Gogo Zamani, from one of the five traditional healers organisations in Makhanda, said “our chairperson said we should come and support someone else’s daughter because tomorrow it will be us. We stand in the name of all Eastern Cape traditional healers, in the name of healers who got their powers from their ancestors, and say rapists should fall because he has disgraced the traditional healers’ name, and we are here to fight for that.”
Siyamthanda Dyantyie, representing Qina Mbokodo, an organisation that assists victims of Gender-Based Violence, appealed to the protesters that they must sign a petition which will be submitted to the court. The petition asks the court not to grant bail to the alleged perpetrator. “We ask the court to protect and stand with us,” said Dyantyie.
Dtyantyie added that she has a girl child who is in danger of getting raped simply because she is a female.
The accused allegedly used his position as pastor and traditional church healer to prey on and rape the victim.
SAPS spokesperson Nkohli Majola said the alleged rape occurred on 13 April, in an open space. “The circumstances surrounding the incident are forming part of the investigation,” said Majola.
The accused was arrested on 16 April and made his first court appearance on 18 April. He remains in police custody.
**EDITOR’S NOTE AND ADDITIONS: I would like to acknowledge The Grahamstown Anti-Crime group and Qina Mbokodo, an organisation that assists victims of Gender-Based Violence, as the organisers of the march and signing of the petition. Also note the church is in New Town and not Vukani, as stated in the original article.