Woman defends Rivers of Living Waters Ministries bishop after her niece accuses him of rape

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Bishop Zondo. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele)
Bishop Zondo. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Thulani Mbele)
  • Rivers of Living Waters leader Bishop Bafana Stephen Zondo has been accused of sexual assault.
  • The aunt of one of the victims who testified that Zondo allegedly raped her has denied the claims against the bishop.
  • The woman, a pastor at Rivers of Living Waters in Springs, says her niece initially told her she was raped by a music artist.

The relative of a former Rivers of Living Waters Ministries member who accuses its leader, Bishop Stephen Zondo, of sexually abusing her, says she is concerned about the claims her niece is making against the church leader.

Bongi Mofokeng’s aunt, Pastor Lydia Malete, testified before the Commission for the the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Monday.

Mofokeng, joined the church in 2008 because she wanted counselling after she was sexually abused by her ex-boyfriend. She alleges that Zondo, whom she regarded as a spiritual father, drove her to a hotel in Johannesburg and raped her. 

Last year SABC reported that Mofokeng testified that Zondo attempted to bribe her with R75 000 and said she should not tell anyone, and if she did, her family would be in danger.

The woman testified that after she had confided in her family, she, her mother and younger sister were involved in a car accident, and she was the only survivor.

In her testimony on Monday, Malete, who is a pastor at the Rivers of Living Waters branch in Springs, told the commission that Mofokeng moved in with her after she told her that her father attempted to rape her.

She said when Mofokeng moved in with her, the younger woman disclosed she was raped by other people, including by a "well-known artist".

She said Mofokeng said the artist drove a Chrysler and took her to a hotel.

'Not the bishop'

Malete said it was shocking that her niece later went on a local radio station and painted the same "scenario", accusing Bishop Zondo of raping her.

The Springs pastor further said:

Bongi is lying about the scenario not the rape. If she was raped, Bongi is the only one who knows. I cannot say she was not raped. About the scenario, no Bongi, you said to me it was ‘this guy’(artist), not Bishop, now why are you mentioning the Bishop?

The aunt said her niece had a tendency to, "... sleep with people and later accuse them of rape".

She testified that for Mofokeng to even obtain her driver’s license she told her she slept with a businessman.

Sexual acts in exchange for favours

"She said to me, 'Sister Lydia, for me to go and sing in this choir that you see on TV, this and this happened with this artist. By sleeping with him, I got an opportunity to go and sing on TV'," she said.

"According to me, I suppose Bongi was sleeping with people [and] when the relationship was cut, then she [would] turn it as a rape. It was only that [artists]. For her to get a license, she told me she slept with one guy, a businessman in Vaal. Then she accused him of rape," she said.

Malete said she was unable to disclose the names of the people Mofokeng had also accused of rape in public but would in a private space away from media.

She said the first time she heard about these allegations against Zondo was in 2012 when Mofokeng went to a local radio station and brought them to light.

ALSO READ | Bishop Zondo takes CRL commission to court over investigation into sexual abuse allegations

Malete said when she heard Mofokeng speaking on radio she also went to a radio station at Vaal University of Technology to counter the allegations based on what she was told.

"Bongi, the same Chrysler, the same hotel, you said it was this guy, not Bishop."

Mofokeng alleged that Zondo was driving a black Chrysler when he took her to the hotel, but Malete denied the bishop ever drove such a vehicle.

The victim also alleged that Zondo bribed her with R75 000 but she denied it.

The aunt said if Mofokeng had told her that the bishop had raped her she would have addressed him right there but her niece did not do that.

Malete told the commission that even when Mofokeng was living with her, she never showed signs she was sexually violated by the Bishop.

We know this was a long read and your time is precious. Did you know you can now listen to articles? Subscribe to News24 for access to this exciting feature and more.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
Voting Booth
Matric results are out! Are you happy with your child's result?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
No, the pandemic really messed up their ability to focus
35% - 145 votes
Yes, they did well given the circumstances
65% - 273 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.