‘Our bishop is a rapist’: 10 women tell their stories
More come forward after PA goes public with church horrors
He invited them to his shack to hear “prophecies” but they ended up being raped or sexually assaulted. This is the claim of 10 women at Bishop TJ Pitso’s corrugated-iron church in Klerksdorp, now the focus of a police investigation after the pastor’s former personal assistant blew the whistle on his alleged behaviour. Pitso portrays himself as “the prophet who cares” but the former PA said she helped him to rig his prophecies.
● At least 10 women have accused a Klerksdorp pastor of preying on women in his church, raping young congregants and defrauding others with fake potions made from olive oil.
Police have confirmed they are investigating three cases of rape and one of sexual assault against Bishop TJ Pitso, who heads Jehovah Shammah International Ministries.
He is also accused of spying on congregants to give him the edge in his “prophecies”, and planting animal skins, insects and other items on people so they would believe they were cursed and pay him to save them.
The church has denied all the allegations, claiming they are part of a smear campaign.
The Sunday Times interviewed 10 women about what they say were their ordeals at the hands of Pitso, who styles himself as “the prophet who cares”.
By Friday more women and former congregants were coming forward with allegations against him.
They broke their silence after Pitso’s former personal assistant of 10 years claimed on a local community radio station last month that she was used by him to deceive people.
The former personal assistant’s allegations include that:
On Pitso’s instructions, she planted muthi, snake skins, beads and knives in people’s yards so he could claim the property was cursed and offer to get rid of the bad spirit for a fee;
Pitso persuaded people that a 5ml bottle of olive oil mixed with a drop of “love potion” from a muthi shop would bring them luck. The bishop would sell each bottle for between R100 and R20 000, depending on the buyer’s financial status;
For years she watched as widows, pensioners, businessmen and professionals took out loans of thousands of rands to buy Pitso cars, bless him with money or donate towards a better church building. The main church in Jouberton township, 7km from Klerksdorp, is nonetheless still only a corrugated-iron structure;
On Pitso’s instructions, she would spy on naked women during bath time at church crusades, seeking out women with genitalia “shaped in a way that is preferred by the bishop”.
These women would later be called for a prayer and counselling sessions, where the bishop would demand sex because this would make him more powerful and able to perform more miracles; and
She would travel all over South Africa and neighbouring countries collecting personal information on congregants. This would be used as a “prophecy from God” during a church service, convincing congregants that Pitso was a prophet.
Since making the allegations on Star FM and posting a video of her claims on social media, she said more women had come forward to share their stories. Other congregants had contacted her to ask if they had been conned by him, she said.
These conversations, recordings of which the Sunday Times has heard, include an anonymous caller to the community station saying she tried to kill herself after she was raped by Pitso.
Another woman claimed she had been offered R200 after she allowed Pitso to fondle her.
The personal assistant told the Sunday Times this week she had decided to spill the beans after one of Pitso’s workers planted a lizard in her grandmother’s pocket.
“During the service the bishop confronted her, saying she had brought her evil spirit in church and asking what was in her pocket. My granny replied she only had sweets with her. Then one of the bishop’s children searched her and they found it. From then on, congregants and our neighbours said she was a witch. Soon after the service she suffered a heart attack. She was in and out of hospital and died.”
The church has accused the personal assistant of stealing an undisclosed amount of money from the church and blackmailing Pitso after she was stripped of her signing powers over the church’s finances.
Church spokesman Joseph Pitso said the allegations were a smear campaign and that the personal assistant was recruiting people and the media to destroy Pitso.
The woman wanted money from the bishop. She threatened to organise girls to destroy the bishop. Joseph Pitso Church spokesman
“The woman wanted money from the bishop. When he refused to give her the R40 000 and R50 000, she threatened to go to the media and organise girls to destroy the bishop.”
North West police spokeswoman Colonel Adele Myburgh confirmed that three cases of rape and one of sexual assault had been opened against Pitso.
Myburgh said he was questioned last Sunday. “The police are gathering evidence. Last week we only had two rape cases. Another rape and sexual assault case were opened against the same person this week.
“We expect more women to come forward.”
Four women who cannot be identified have opened cases against their bishop at Jehovah Shammah International Ministries in Klerksdorp.