A 58-year-old money preacher pastor, James Devine Thubakgale, has been found guilty of three counts of rape, common assault and calling a person a witch in the Limpopo High Court.
National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Mashudu Malabi Dzhangi said, Thubakgale, who was the money preacher pastor of Devine Deliverance Church in Seshego, had presented himself to his congregants as “a powerful man of God, who could heal the sick, cast away evil and was sent to this world to save them”.
“He demanded to be called a judge because he was going to be a judge with God at the end of the world. He would demand that congregants bring all their money to the church including their retirements savings,” Dzhangi said.
“The congregants in his church respected obeyed and took orders from him as they believed that he was part of the holy trinity and was closest to God,” he said.
Dzhangi said Thubakgale’s congregants would do whatever he wanted them to do.
“He would target young girls who were under 16 years of age, who had shown committed to the word of God. He promised them marriage, telling them that it was God himself who wanted them to be married,” Dzhangi said.
“He would then rape the girls at a lodge, in his motor vehicles and also in their rooms which he rented for them. He threatened them that if they refused to either marry or have sex with him, God would punish them for disobedience and there would be death and sickness in their families.”
“At all times the victims would obey his rules and when they defied him, he would scold them and call them witches who were possessed by evil spirits. He assaulted his victims in full view of other fellow congregants,” Dzhangi said.
He said the victims believed that the pastor was telling them the truth and they obliged as they were promised that if they obeyed his orders, they would see heaven.
“Thubakgale continued with his reign of terror without the victims reporting the incidents to the authorities in fear of sickness and death from 2010 until 2017,” he said.
Judge Cornelius Muller found Thubakgale guilty of rape and common assault. He was also earlier sentenced on September 30 to two life imprisonment terms in the Mankweng regional court for another case in which he was found guilty of the rape of minor girls in 2011 and 2012.
The case was postponed to 24 March 2021 for sentencing.