A 50-year-old South African pastor has been sentenced to five life terms in prison for raping minors.
Setabo Elias Molepo of the Global Life Changing Ministry Church at Ga-Madiba Mashashane village outside Polokwane, Limpopo, was convicted on five counts of rape by the Seshego Regional Court in Polokwane on Tuesday, August 31.
Spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Limpopo, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, said the incidents happened between 2016 and 2017.
Malabi-Dzhangi said that both victims, aged 11 and 13 at the time, were parishioners at his church in Ga-Madiba Mashashane.
Malabi-Dzhangi said the victims are from poor families in the area and Molepo would provide them with food parcels.
During the trial the court heard how he would visit the victims’ families and convince their parents to allow him to take the girls to the shops to buy them clothes.
“He would rape them once they were alone,” she explained.
She said that in aggravation of sentence, the prosecution led by Advocate Andisa Mudau called the mothers of the victims, who both testified that after the rape ordeal their daughters were struggling to cope at school and were repeating their grades.
“The victims are afraid of men and they have nightmares about the accused.” she added.
The Victim Impact Report which was compiled by the social worker was also handed to the court. The report confirmed the evidence given by both the mothers.
Malabi-Dzhangi added that during sentencing, the presiding officer Mrs Annelies Swanepoel said that the accused abused the trust of the victims and their families.
Swanepoel said that they looked up to him as a prominent member of society and as their pastor but he took advantage of their poor financial background.
“People now are reluctant to go to a place of worship as the very same pastors are abusing their position of trust,” she concluded.