Bail for pastor accused of rape to be decided tomorrow

Johnnie Isaac
Supporters of Pastor Themba Mathibela have been protesting outside court. Photo by Johnnie Isaac.
Johnnie Isaac

Themba Mathibela will learn tomorrow if he has been granted bail. The Khayelitsha pastor is charged with rape.

The state is opposing his bail application because it believes he will jeopardise the case. Police investigator Sergeant Anthenia Leibrandt told the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court on Friday that Mathibela had threatened the complainants, telling them that going against him is like a rabbit taking on an elephant.

Leibrandt said that it took a lot of time for the first complainant to report her ordeal because she feared that no one would believe her, while the second complainant said she felt like she had no choice but to keep quiet because Mathibela is providing for her family. Leibrandt was also concerned that Mathibela would flee.

However, defence lawyer Sabelo Noxaka said Mathibela doesn’t intend to flee because his family is here and he is still employed by the church.

Noxaka cross-examined Leibrandt on the claim made previously in court that his client is believed to have supernatural powers. He said if Mathibela had such powers he could have used them while he was in prison.

Noxaka also referred to notes in the diary of the first complainant that suggests that there was an affair between the accused and the complainant. He read out a message that was written after the complainant recorded the first alleged rape. The complainant, according to the defence lawyer, wrote that she had sex with Mathibela every day for a week. She wrote that she felt good though it was painful and that Mathibela knew how to satisfy a woman.

Magistrate Gary Haremse criticised the strength of the state case. He said the evidence in the diary does not say anything about rape but is filled with suggestions that the two were in a relationship. Haremse also criticised the amount of time the state has spent on bail hearing of this matter.

Noxaka also said that the complainants had first discussed the case together before they laid charges. He said this suggests there was a motive behind the complaint. Leibrandt responded that the complainants were in the same church and were both part of the church choir.

During her testimony on Thurday, Leibrandt said that the second complainant told her boyfriend that she had been raped. She said at that time there were rumours of sexual involvement between the pastor and the first complainant. That led to discussions about the matter and consequently both complainants sought help from Thuthuzela Care Centre.

Noxaka said that refusal of bail to protect society can only be allowed in extreme circumstances. However prosecutor Sizo Dlali believes the matter falls within such extreme circumstances.

Dlali said the Technical Response Unit had to be called on the day the accused was arrested because the community was outraged and had already damaged his car. Dlali said the climate in the community cannot be taken lightly because there are ongoing cases of vigilantism in the community.

Dlali also urged the magistrate to consider the petitions that the court has received from four community organisations including the Treatment Action Campaign.

Dlali said a court should also consider emotional and occupational ties, adding that the accused has no property or anything that attaches him to the province.

He also said that since the accused said he has enough money to last him for a long period he could forfeit his bail money.

Dlali said the accused made threats before he was arrested and the complainants fear him. He also said his familiarity with the identity of the victims and witnesses posed a threat to the trial.

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TOPICS:  Violence

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