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The Church Needs To Rise Against Own Monsters

PAMELA DUBE KELEPANG
I had hoped to continue on the issue of unemployment, but then the on-going high profile court case of a Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso, in South Africa caught my attention.

From the Port Elizabeth court, we need to explore and rally around three points.

The pastor, whose dress sense is of a serious attention seeker, together with his co-accused, is facing over 60 charges including rape, and kidnapping.

The focus, during the past week’s proceedings was evidence led by a young beautiful brave heart, Cheryl Zondi. She told the court that she was groomed by church mothers, from the age of 14, to serve the pastor, sexually.

For years, she was his sex slave. Zondi told of the many times, in many places, within South Africa, and abroad where he continued to molest and rape her. And she was not alone. Many are still to testify.

But how are they going to, after what Zondi was exposed to?

First, as a rallying point is the issue of exposing the victim/survivor of sexual offence. World over, even here in Botswana, as a standard in the Codes of Ethics on reporting, the media knows that names, faces or pictures, and voices of victims of sexual abuse, cannot be published or aired.

It is a violation; exposing the victims and survivors is a double violation. There are times, we in the media profession, have had to take the matter further, where the ‘victim’ is someone by association.

It happened even in the last week’s edition of The Monitor, when the editor took a decision to remove the name of the husband of the woman killed by a ‘Ben 10’ to protect his dignity. Now imagine a young woman, who braved all to face his monstrous abuser in court, and his high profile and marauding legal representation, is now having to deal with the current situation and the future beyond the court case. Already, she has been attacked by Omotoso’s legion of church supporters, women in the lead…

And that is another rallying point for us. Women against women, in defence of the abuser, a man in a powerful position. The events of last week, of women, some in political regalia of the ruling the African National Congress (ANC), and main opposition the Democratic Alliance, dancing, insulting and attacking Zondi, in defence of Omotoso, sent shockwaves. Women!

While the ANC expressed shock and even threatened to expel those of their members, the party could not claim moral high ground as it was not the first time.

Some years back, leading ANC women, came to the defence of former president Jacob Zuma during his rape case. Minister Lindiwe Zulu, even declared, in Parliament that they would defend the president with “dibono tsa rona…”

What therefore, is the difference? Some of those who

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stood last week outside the Port Elizabeth court, in defence of Omotoso, were women old enough to be Zondi’s mother. They preferred to come out in numbers to defend ‘daddy’, a man accused of despicable things. All in the name of God!

As a woman I am ashamed and disgusted. As a Christian, I get not just confused, but also mad when someone claiming to be a man of the cloth goes against the teachings of Christ, does the most unspeakable things such as child molestation and rape, and use the Word of God to justify such heinous ungodly acts.

And in recent times, we have seen a lot of that; exposés of Catholic priests who over the years, under the cover of ‘fatherhood’ molested young boys, to pastors in the ‘fire’ churches who not only bed a string of women in the church, including married mothers, but more disturbingly molest young girls.

As one of the members of the South African Human Rights Commission noted in an ENCA interview, abuse in the church is worse than in any other institution, including the home.

In religious institutions, the women, some of whom are mothers handing over their young girls to these monsters parading as pastors, are indoctrinated into believing that sex with the ‘man of God’ is sanctified, and refusal to engage in sexual intercourse with such a man is sinful.

They are made to believe refusal is an act of disobedience, and therefore, one would be punished, struck by the fires from heaven.

I read my Bible, regularly, and nowhere do I find such nonsense.

If anything, the key teachings of Christ are far from threats and are about love, and protection of the vulnerable. A child of 14 is vulnerable, just as is a woman, even a man, who comes before a pastor, a priest or any religious leader, broken and seeking edification, care and spiritual rebirth.

These are the poor in soul whom Christ Jesus took in and mended. As church leaders, the pastors’ duty is to share and live the Word of God. But today, within the walls of some of these churches, is nothing but demonic practices.

What is happening in the Port Elizabeth court could just be happening in Lobatse High Court, and it is time we wake up to that reality.

Church leaders in the Botswana Christian Council and the Evangelical Fellowship Botswana, need to take heed of what’s happening in SA, with more than 40 churches being dragged before the courts of law to answer to all kinds of misdeeds, and start probing and saving souls.



The Rallying Point

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