‘Our bishop is a rapist’: 10 women tell their sto­ries

More come for­ward af­ter PA goes pub­lic with church hor­rors

Sunday Times - - Front Page - By KHANYI NDABENI

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.”

Pic­ture: Sim­phiwe Nk­wali

Four women who can­not be iden­ti­fied have opened cases against their bishop at Je­ho­vah Shammah In­ter­na­tional Min­istries in Klerks­dorp.

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