Thandeka Moyo, Court Reporter
A pastor from Cowdray Park in Bulawayo who turned a congregant (16) into a sex slave and infected her with HIV and genital warts will finally serve his 25-year jail term after the High Court dismissed his appeal.
Greatness Tapfuma (33), the founder of Kingdom Rulers International Church had been out on bail pending appeal since 2015 and was rearrested on Monday when he went to the police seeking clearance to hold a crusade following the dismissal of his appeal.
This was after the court failed to deliver the appeal ruling to him.
In a letter addressed to the High Court Registrar, the clerk of court said, “We attempted to serve the accused person with the letter for the courses of action to take but occupants at the house refused to receive the letter. The appeal has lapsed and is deemed abandoned and dismissed. The records are herewith returned to the court to enable the respondent to enforce the judgement appealed against.”
On September 22 in 2015, regional magistrate Mr Chrispen Mberewere convicted Tapfuma of two counts of rape. He sentenced him to 30 years imprisonment for both counts and suspended five years on condition of good behaviour.
Tapfuma through his lawyers managed to get bail pending appeal. His appeal was however dismissed at the Bulawayo High Court and he had to be incarcerated.
In court, Tapfuma’s victim said she decided to speak out on the abuse after she was treated for genital warts in 2015.
“I used to attend his church with my parents and one day he told me that my family was haunted by evil spirits which would kill my father. He called me to his house and when I got there he proposed love to me and I turned him down,” said the girl.
“He then approached my father and asked if I could go to his home for prayers and my father agreed. I went to his house and he immediately said my father was going to die within that week if he didn’t pray for him.
“I started crying and begged him to pray and save my father from death as a prophet who could see the spirit. He then said I was supposed to fall in love with him if I needed any assistance from him in connection with blocking my father’s death”.
According to the girl, Tapfuma moved closer to her after she indicated that she desperately needed his assistance.
“He then started undressing me as I was crying over what he had just told me; that my father could die anytime, that day or even after a week. He then ordered me to lie facing upwards on the carpet, opened my legs and raped me. I tried resisting but he said if I failed to cooperate, my father would die,” she said.
The court also heard that Tapfuma ordered the girl to keep the sexual act a secret as divulging it would provoke the death spirit to kill her father immediately.
“I returned home and didn’t tell anyone as I feared for my father’s death and wanted Tapfuma’s prayers to work. From that day, he started asking to see me thrice a week and would rape me all the occasions. On a certain day in November, he had sex with me till I started bleeding and he wiped my privates suggesting he would keep the towel he used.”
The girl said she started noticing some blisters on her privates and reported the matter to her mother.
“Again I noticed some blisters on my privates and we went to the hospital as they got worse in December. I tested HIV positive. That was when my mother asked how I got infected and I had to tell her what had been happening,” said the girl.
“We made a police report and changed churches and at that time, one of the elders came to me and tried enticing me. He said the church had raised thousands of dollars to give me if only I dropped the rape charges against the pastor. He said they were ready to give me a house or a car as long as I dropped the charges but I refused.”
Mr Robin Mukura, for the State, said in October 2014 Tapfuma called the girl to his home and raped her in exchange for prayers for her father who was said to be facing death.
“Again on unknown dates but during October and November, Tapfuma raped the girl. The matter came to light when the girl sought medical attention after she noticed blisters on her privates,” said Mr Mukura.