- Former church members have accused Bishop Bafana Zondo of sexual assault and using his "spiritual powers" for "evil".
- Zondo heads up Rivers of Living Waters Ministries, which has branches in Gauteng and Botswana.
- A relative testified before the CRL Commission that a young Zondo raped her when she was 7 years old.
"If people thought [rape accused televangelist Timothy] Omotoso has done something horrible, wait till Bishop Zondo's victims start coming."
These were the chilling sentiments of former Rivers of Living Waters Ministries member Solly Poopedi.
Poopedi was the first witness called by the CRL Commission on the first day of investigations into sexual abuse allegations against the church leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo.
Poopedi and his wife, Sizakele, left the church in 2019 and have since started collecting victim accounts of alleged abuse. According to them, they have spoken to at least 103 people and seven cases have been opened.
CRL Commission chair Professor David Luka Mosoma said they were aware of five cases opened against the bishop.
News24 has seen the case numbers but police were not immediately available for comment.
When contacted by News24, Zondo strongly denied all the allegations levelled against him and said the matter was sub judice.
"All things are still sub judice. I don't know who I should answer - the courts or the commission," he said.
Zondo said he had been made aware of the dates the commission would sit and added he was not aware of anything else, other than news reports he had seen on Monday. He did not indicate if he would honour the commission's invitation to appear before it.
One of Zondo's alleged victims is a relative who told the commission that a teenage Zondo raped her when she was just 7 years old.
"He gave me R1 and a handful of sweets and told me not to tell anyone," testified the woman, who is now 46.
The commission also heard from Zondo's sister, Khabo, who described her brother's church as evil.
"My mother's child is a snake, he is a witch. My brother's church is that of the devil. As women in South Africa, we pray that the justice system puts him in overalls," Khabo said.
Some of the accusations brought before the commission related to Zondo's alleged "evil spirits" or "supernatural powers" that were allegedly used against them after they left the church.
Commission chair Mosoma said there was a need for the commission to educate itself so it could better respond to situations.
"It's hard to explain spiritual things and for people to believe them. The Western world finds difficulty in understanding these spiritual things. A cult in English is different from what our understanding of a cult is," he said.
The commission will resume its hearing on Tuesday.
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