'Prophet, you betrayed me by raping my wife, sister' - man testifies against church leader at CRL

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  • The husband of a woman who was allegedly raped by the leader of Heaven International Fellowship church, says things have never been the same in their marriage.
  • The husband told the CRL Commission that his family had been threatened since they fled the church's mission. 
  • The witnesses have claimed the leader's very manipulative and that even the most educated people who are congregants fell for his tricks. 

"Samuel Paul Heaven, I did nothing to you. I respected [and] honoured you, but you betrayed my trust by raping my wife and my sister."

These were the words of heartbroken husband, Joseph Tshukudu, at the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) on Thursday.

He testified against the leader of Heaven International Fellowship church leader Bahlakwana Moleko, known as Samuel Paul Heaven. 

The church leader is at the centre of explosive allegations of sexual and financial exploitation, and human trafficking at the hearing, chaired by Professor David Mosoma. 

Tshukudu's wife, Sonia, earlier testified that she was allegedly raped on two occasions by the "prophet" - on 6 and 10 October 2020. 

The commission also heard that the leader of the church, located in Meyerton, Johannesburg, was manipulative and that his word and instructions were final and should be followed. 

Moleko was described as authoritarian and sometimes spoke down to those who lived at the mission.

When he instructed people to see him, they apparently had to run to him. 

Tshukudu told the commission: 

If you disobey this man, you disobey God.

Sacrifice

Tshukudu testified that he had attended the church since 2015 and was very active in the ministry - to the extent he was called in by Moleko - but he had no idea things would turn sour to the point that he now feared for his and his family's lives. 

The congregant, who is a college lecturer, told the commission that they were asked to move in to the church's mission house last year during the national lockdown. 

He said he had moved in with his wife, child who attends primary school, and sister. 

Tshukudu said when they moved to the mission house, he noticed a lot of strange things, including that everyone who lived there ate spinach and rice for supper - every day. 

He said when he first moved in with his family, Moleko told him that "you eat what is being eaten here".

READ | Rape, forced contraception and financial exploitation - CRL hears of church leader's alleged sins

He said the leader's teachings about money were always based on sacrifice. 

"He would say, when we enter the place, we must enter by sacrifice. In other words, we must give our all. So with my salary, I had to give everything after paying the loan and school fees. I couldn't even do anything for myself. I even had to buy groceries for myself and the people that were there [mission house]." 

He said the church leader always encouraged them to "sow a seed". 

Tshukudu added that Moleko was always at his cottage at the church, which also made them suspicious because they wondered when he was spending time with his wife and children.

He said the prophet's teaching was also "deceiving" and suspicious in that whatever they did, whether they "killed, steal for the Kingdom of God", they were still called righteous.

Tshukudu's wife testified that Moleko allegedly raped her in his cottage. She testified he made her undress and pray, before putting his fingers inside her private parts. 

The man said: 

A lot of people who are under this prophet are not fools. They are educated, but we don't know what comes over us when we are in that place. I went there to seek God, to draw closer to God. I didn't go there for my wife to be raped.

Exposed

It was only after his sister had revealed that the church leader had allegedly raped her, that his wife also revealed what had happened to her.

But Tshukudu said he had noticed his wife's behaviour changed before that and that she started asking questions about what had led his spirit to the church. 

The husband said when he thought back to the dates his wife was allegedly raped, they were on a 10-day fasting stint - and were not eating and drinking water.  

Tshukudu said their lives had never been the same after they fled the church in the wake of the alleged abuse.

He said they now lived in fear, adding there was also an attempt to petrol bomb his parent's house in Welkom. 

"We are no longer the same as a couple. We fight over small things. This man is after my family, tormented my parents, tormented me emotionally. He took everything from me, but still wants to come back and threaten me.

"I thank God for this opportunity that at least we spoke it publicly. Even if he doesn't go to prison, but we exposed him," he said. 

Tshukudu said Moleko had also called them, threatening to destroy them. 

News24 contacted the church earlier on Thursday to speak to Moleko about the allegations made against him at the commission, but a woman who answered the phone said he was on a "prayer mountain" and unavailable. 

While the woman said the church would contact News24 once he returned, calls to the church again in the afternoon were left unanswered. 


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