The latest CRL Rights Commission hearings into the alleged sexual abuse claims against the head of the Rivers of Living Waters church on Monday exposed how the scandal has seemingly torn a family apart.
On Monday, Pastor Lydia Malete, a member of Rivers of Living Waters, testified before the commission, disputing allegations made by her niece before the commission that she had been sexually assaulted by head of the church, Bishop Stephen Zondo.
Malete told the commission that she was shocked to hear the allegations made by her niece.
Zondo hasn’t testified yet before the commission, but has been invited to do so at a later date.
Malete on Monday said that in 2012, her niece had confided in her that she had been raped by a gospel artist in a hotel in the south of Johannesburg. She alleged that her niece had described driving with the popular gospel artist in a black Chrysler on the day of the alleged rape.
Malete, however, said she was shocked when her niece had recounted the story to a local radio station, but now alleging that Zondo was the perpetrator and driver of the Chrysler.
Malete then headed to another radio station to rebut her niece’s allegation, starting the mudslinging of allegations.
Malete said that when she later to spoke to her niece, she learnt why she had reportedly lied.
“She said she was taking her CD to be promoted at Thetha FM and, there, they twisted everything. She said they were being paid. She said she made the mistakes because of not having an income,” said Malete.
The woman claimed her niece was troublesome and that she allegedly admitted to sleeping with gospel artists to get her big break and perform alongside them.
When the alleged victim testified before the commission, she claimed she had been promised R75,000 for her silence and had been threatened that her family members would be killed if she spoke about it.
Malete maintained she knew nothing of rapes in the church, but added she was not shocked by the mounting allegations against the man of the cloth — even though she was adamant Zondo had done nothing wrong.
“When there is a person who is succeeding or being used by God, such allegations come up … If you are a successful man of God, there will be allegations. None of the allegations are true,” she said.
She claimed she had no reason to shield Zondo, adding that he was nothing but a spiritual father to her.
“Up until [these claims are] proven, I won’t believe it,” she added.