Furious protesters demand pastor’s head

Protesters marching under the Sanco banner sing struggle songs during their march to the Vosloorus Police Station. The protest was against the release of a pastor who allegedly sodomised a schoolboy.

The pastor was arrested for allegedly sodomising a 15-year-old schoolboy.

A large crowd marched to the Vosloorus Police Station where they handed over a memorandum to the acting station commander, Colonel Raymond Buthelezi.

They demanded that the pastor, whose name is known to Kathorus MAIL, be rearrested and kept in custody pending trial.

The group, which consisted mainly of young women, accused the police of acting in bad faith for allowing the suspect, arrested for a schedule-five crime, to be granted “free bail”.

“How come in other similar cases the suspects are often detained in police custody until they appear in court and apply for bail?” asked angry protester Thobeka Maredi.

The march was led by the officials from the local Sanco (South African National Civic Organisation) branch. Branch secretary Zulu Ratswana handed over the memorandum to Buthelezi.

In the memorandum, Sanco indicated that it had taken up the matter after hearing reports that the suspect was still free.

“Our message to all and sundry is to condemn the drastic deed without reservation. Our duty as Sanco is to defend the community, in particular vulnerable members of the community, such as women and children,” said Ratswana.

The demands listed in the memorandum were:

• That the suspect be rearrested with immediate effect.

• That the matter be brought to court as soon as possible, without fail.

• That the tent church belonging to the suspect cease to operate with immediate effect.

• That the suspect be denied bail.

• That the boy’s family be protected from any physical harm by the pastor and his church members.

• That the investigating officer should regularly update the family and the local office of Sanco about the progress of the case.

• That the Vosloorus Police Station should establish a task team to investigate all crimes affecting the abuse of women and children.

• That there should be an audit of informal churches, which must be investigated by the metro police department and the SAPS in collaboration with all formal religious bodies in the area.

• That the Vosloorus SAPS must provide the civic body with regular reports on developments in the case.

However, senior local police officers, both in Vosloorus as well as in Katlehong, condemned Sanco, noting that the civic body had acted without understanding procedures regarding the investigation of such crimes.

A senior police spokesperson explained that the suspect was released because the police must follow certain procedures in such cases.

“The procedures include obtaining forensic DNA tests from the victim in order to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the victim had indeed been molested by the perpetrator,” said a spokesperson for the police.

According to the police, this would help the investigating officer to present a solid case in court for the prosecution. That is why the suspect was not being held in police custody.

The police vehemently denied that the suspect had been “set free”.

Ratswana alleged that the incident happened soon after the suspect approached the 15-year-old’s family, requesting that the boy come and live with him. That is when the alleged sexual abuse is said to have taken place.

The suspect was arrested on May 18 after the victim reported the matter to his uncle.

When the boy’s father heard of the alleged sexual assault on his son, he opened a case of sodomy against the suspect at the Vosloorus Police Station.

Captain Ndobe of the Katlehong SAPS confirmed to Kathorus MAIL that a case of sodomy was being investigated by the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Investigations Unit based at the Katlehong SAPS.

However, both Katlehong SAPS and Vosloorus SAPS refused to comment further on the case and directed Kathorus MAIL’s enquiries to the SAPS’ provincial spokesperson, Col Lungelo Dlamini.

  AUTHOR
Zaid Khumalo

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