In a new development, pastor James Thubakgale, 57, has been convicted on two counts of rape and sentenced to two life terms in the Mankweng regional court.

Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, Limpopo spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Thubakgale was convicted of raping two girls, aged 14 and 16.

Malabi-Dzhangi said “Thubakgale was a well-known pastor of the Deliverance Church of Christ in Polokwane. He used to rape minor children belonging to his church. Their parents were told to bring their kids in order to receive deliverance or to get the prophecy”.

During the trial, the court heard that the first incident of a 16-year-old girl happened in 2009 after a church service.

She further explained that “The pastor called the complainant in order to deliver her from evil spirits. The pastor penetrated her, claiming to remove the evil spirit. The second incident of a 14-year-old girl happened after church in his house. Thubakgale called the complainant and upon her arrival she was told that God loves her and she has a gift of prophecy but the problem is that she has a snake inside her stomach”.

However, Thubakgale promised her he would remove the “snake” from the young girl’s stomach.

Malabi-Dzhangi also said “The pastor put a white towel on the bed and instructed her to sleep so that he can take out the snake and he told her to undress to her underwear only. He immediately grabbed her hands and inserted his penis into her vagina and raped her. She tried to scream and no one came to her rescue. The pastor ran the water and told her to bathe. He later came with the gun and threatened her with it.”

Weeks later, Thubakgale called the teenager, went into her house and instructed her to lie on the couch and raped her again.

The National Prosecuting Authority said the teenager “was raped several times until she stopped attending the church”. In court, Thubakgale pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Thubakgale and five other church members are also facing several charges on a pending case in the Seshego Magistrate’s Court.

Malabi-Dzhangi added that “In aggravation of sentence, advocate Calvin Tjege argued the submission by the defence did not have substance, since no substantial and compelling circumstances existed. He further asked the court to impose the prescribed minimum sentence for each count”.

“The court remarked that the accused being the pastor was supposed to protect the flock and not to abuse or to breach the trust. The court agreed with the State and sentenced Thubakgale to two (life terms).”