By Aphiwe Ngowapi
On 28 April, 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, was denied bail at the Makhanda Magistrates Court. This comes after four signed petitions were presented to the Court by various organisations and community members requesting the Court not grant the accused bail. This is Odwa Kondile’s third bail application.
During the court proceedings, the defendant’s lawyer, Viwe Mqeke, read his client’s sworn affidavit stating his reasons for requesting bail. Some of these reasons include his needing to be home with his pregnant wife and children and to continue his work as a traditional healer, as he had thirty other initiates who were at his home under his guidance.
The state, represented by Themba Maxhaulana, also read the victim’s sworn affidavit, which stated that she had always looked at Kondile as a father figure and now fears him. The affidavit highlighted the events leading to the alleged rape, which occurred in an open space, and that the accused allegedly called the victim a coward after rejecting his first attempt at kissing her.
Outside the Court, members of the community, Sarah Baartman District church leaders, traditional healers, the municipality, the Grahamstown Anti-crime neighbourhood watch group, Qina Mbokodo, and the South African Communist Party (SACP) stood in support of the victim.
Mfundo Tsili, the spokesperson of the Grahamstown Anti-crime neighbourhood watch group, addressed the protestors by saying, “The signing of petitions helped us, and your presence here is the reason for today’s outcome,” he said. He added that anyone who has been raped or assaulted in any way should come forward and report the case.
Sarah Baartman District spokesperson Nomhle Gaga urged men to stop abusing women during the gathering. “We say no as the women’s caucus of Sarah Baartman, we say no as the speakers of Sarah Baartman, and we say no as the Sarah Baartman government. No woman will be raped here again,” she said.
Siyamthanda Dyantyie of Qina Mbokodo, an organisation that assists victims of Gender-Based Violence, stood in solidarity with rape victims by saying that rapists should not be tolerated and that “No one will protect a rapist”.
Makana Municipality spokesperson Mthuthuzeli Matyumza expressed his confidence in the justice system by saying, “As the Makana Municipality, we have confidence in this Court and the prosecution team handling this case. And it must also be protected because we heard that powerful forces can make things disappear.” He added that they would be back to support the victim when the case resumes in Court on 29 May. He also acknowledged that the Grahamstown Anti-Crime Neighbourhood Watch group are already working to help the victim.
“We will work with the Anti-crime [neighbourhood watch group]. We will make sure that on the 29th, together with the districts Women’s Caucus of the municipality, we work with you to make sure when we come back here on the 29th, at least the whole of Makhanda will be here because it might not be you today, but tomorrow,” he added.
National Unitary Professional Association For African Traditional Health Practitioners Of South Africa (NUPAATHPSA) provincial chairperson Lungisile Nquma supported the victim by mobilising all organisations under NUPAATHPSA. He added that traditional healing is a respected calling and that they do not stand with accused and self-proclaimed traditional healer and pastor.
Grocott’s Mail first reported that the accused was arrested on 16 April and made his first court appearance on 18 April. He remains in police custody and will appear in Court on 29 May 2023, where the case may be moved to the Regional Court.