Update: This article was updated on December 3 to reflect the apology to Alph Lukau
She was only 16 when she first encountered this “man of God”, and she entered Alph Lukau’s office eager to receive “deliverance”.
She shook his hand and immediately made herself comfortable on the couch.
The flamboyant and poised pastor, who was seated on a gold throne-style chair, seemed happy to see a beautiful young girl.
“The year 2013 was the most painful year of my life. I cried day and night. I was blaming myself for attending this church. It took me three years to trust any church again,” Angela* said in an interview with City Press last week.
After several months of attempting to meet the “Papa”, as he is called by his congregants, the day had finally come.
“It was a dream come true,” she said.
“I was always seated next to senior pastors in the VIP section in church, but meeting him in person was a different feeling. When he first opened his mouth, he commented on my blouse and hairstyle. When he asked me about my sexual history, I was uncomfortable and confused,” she recalled.
Angela remembers how, when she told Lukau that she was a virgin, it appeared as if he couldn’t contain his excitement.
“The meeting was more than an hour long, but from that meeting on, we never discussed anything about God or the Bible, and not even the reason I was there,” she said.
Lukau, she claims, then suggested that they needed more time together and she was instructed to arrange another meeting with him through his personal assistant “very soon”.
Lukau strongly denies all the allegations, saying through his lawyer Sean Sim that he “has been happily married for 17 years, and his family has suffered and continues to suffer tremendous hurt and harm as a result of these false and malicious allegations”.
Two years ago, after news broke about Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso, being accused of rape, Angela, who is now 23, posted an emotional 30-minute YouTube video detailing her experience.
Today, she is naming the pastor she claims tried to take advantage of her.
“I never opened a case against him because no one was going to believe me,” she said.
Angela’s second visit with Lukau was different. As she waited patiently in a long queue, she was told the pastor had asked for her to be the last person to meet him that day because her matter was “very serious” and “needed more attention”.
“I was happy to receive the deliverance because I thought he was a man of God,” she said.
“Finally, it was my turn and I knew, being the last person in line, that I was going to be delivered. My life was not going to be the same.”
This time, Lukau looked her straight in the eyes and allegedly said to her: “I want to help you, but in order for me to help, you have to be relaxed and free around me.”
“He demanded sex and touched me on my waist. He then asked that I have sex with him at 12am on the church’s premises,” she said.
“He said: ‘Next time when I see you, I want you to undress for me. If you are not comfortable here, we can book a hotel room and we can do it there.’”
Angela was shivering and confused, but she was stuck in the room and still trusted the “man of God”.
“I knew what he was doing was wrong, but I was scared of him. One would think this man of God, who has a huge following, is a deputy Jesus,” she said.
“He asked me to kneel down, and I did as per his request, but I was petrified. He said: ‘Are you scared of me? Just do what I tell you to do.’
“He stood up and gave me a tight hug. This is a tall man with big muscles. I was powerless and shaking. But he was happy.
“When I stepped out of his office, I met his wife, who didn’t look surprised. What was strange was that his armed protocols [guards] were always there.”
She says she knew that she would not accept another invitation from him.
Sim responded to the allegations via email: “We can confirm that each and every allegation which has been made is false, defamatory and made with malicious and bad intent.”
Angela went home and never returned to Lukau’s Alleluia Ministries International church.
“I confided in one of the church leaders, but I was accused of ruining the pastor’s image and I was labelled a Jezebel. I was threatened and told I was going to die if I left the church,” she said.
Angela is not alone. Another young woman to whom City Press spoke last week claims that Lukau “forced himself on her”.
The woman alleges that she “knows a lot about the pastor” and “a lot of things happened in my presence”.
A close confidant of hers said: “The first time it happened was in an apartment in Sandton, six years ago, after she became a leader in the church in a short space of time.
“Lukau asked her whether she would do something for him if he asked her to, and she said yes. He manipulated her using his position as a pastor. She didn’t want to sleep with him, but he forced himself on her,” the confidant said.
“The second time, she was delivering something. He forced himself on her again and said: ‘Don’t worry, God will forgive us.’”
She started telling people she had recruited to the church about what happened, but she was threatened by Lukau’s security team. It was then that she tried – twice – to open a case with the police, but the cases went nowhere.
Sim responded: “For the record, in counter to these bald allegations, our client has instructed us that [he] has never sexually assaulted anyone and never interfered with any investigation.”
Another former church member, a married woman, alleged that Lukau made several moves on her. It all started with text messages and he then offered her a job in his office.
“This almost cost me my marriage. The only choice I had was to leave the church,” she said.
Sim said Lukau was not provided with Angela’s full name and details, and added that the “details of the alleged encounters are, at best, sketchy”.
“[Lukau] is able to deny each and every such allegation as [he] has, simply, never engaged in any of the bizarre and far-fetched conduct of the nature that has been alleged,” Sim said.
But Angela disagrees.
“These things happened in the church. It’s unfortunate that you can’t even confide in your spiritual mother or father – they won’t believe you. But you would be blamed by taking the man of God down. The congregants are always behind him,” she said.
“No one talks about pastors violating young girls. We are scared to open cases against them because they are generally very influential and connected. I pray for the day when all these girls who have been sexually assaulted can be brave enough to break their silence.”
Sim threatened legal action against City Press, saying Lukau “demands that you do not publish any article based on these allegations”.
*Not her real name
City Press apologises to Mr Lukau for failing to put allegations from a source described as a“married woman” who claimed the pastor made advances to her, which threatened her marriage. We also apologises for the misleading subhead in which read that "allegations emerge of sexual abuse of young girls by man of God" since this were not substantiated by facts on the story. Lukau complained to the Press Ombudsman after the story “Lukau demanded sex from me” published on March 24. He complained the story was false, defamatory and made with malicious and bad intent”. The Ombud found that the broad allegations contained in the story were “reasonably true” and were presented as such. However, she found that City Press should have done more to add credibility to the story by confirming more accurate details with sources and with the police, such as the age of one complainant and the police station at which she said she reported the allegations. The rest of the complaints were dismissed.
For more, please visit www.presscouncil.org.za