The pastor has been convicted on three counts of rape, while already serving two life sentences after being convicted last year on two counts of raping minors aged 14 and 16.
PRETORIA, March 16 (ANA) – The high court in South Africa’s city of Polokwane has found 58-year-old pastor James Devine Thubakgale guilty of three counts of rape, assault common and calling another person a witch.
Thubakgale, who is already serving two life sentences after being convicted last year on two counts of raping minors aged 14 and 16, was convicted on Monday of the additional charges.
The pastor from the Devine Deliverance church in Seshego preyed on his multitude of followers by presenting himself as a powerful man of God, who could heal the sick, cast away evil and was sent to this world to save them, Limpopo province spokeswoman for the National Prosecuting Authority Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said in a statement.
“He demanded to be called a judge because he was going to be a judge with God at the end of the world,” she said.
“He would demand that congregants bring all their money to the church including their retirement savings. The congregants in his church obeyed and took orders from him as they believed that he was part of the holy trinity and was closest to God.”
Thubakgale would target young girls aged under 16 years who had shown commitment to the word of God, telling them God wanted them to be married.
“He would then rape the girls at a lodge, in his motor vehicles and also in their rooms which he rented for them. He threatened them that if they refused to either marry or have sex with him, God would punish them for disobedience and there would be death and sickness in their families,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.
“At all times the victims would obey his rules and when they defied him, he would scold them and call them witches who were possessed by evil spirits. He assaulted his victims in full view of other congregants.”
Malabi-Dzhangi said Thubakgale continued with his reign of terror from 2010 until 2017, with the victims not reporting him because they feared death or sickness.
On Monday, the Polokwane high court postponed his sentencing to March 24.
– African News Agency (ANA)