South Africa is not new to cases of supposed men of God using their powers to confuse their followers and take advantage of them in ways beyond the understanding of rational thinking humans. One name that pops to mind in this regard is Bishop Zondo, who has been accused of sexually abusing women after hypnotizing them. The scandal that hit the Rivers of Living Waters Ministry leader was hinted at by members of his church who claimed they were harassed by him.
Although he has denied the claims, there are still ongoing investigations on the matter for which an outcome is still being awaited. These allegations have not been proven to be true, neither has he been found guilty of anything, here is an overview of some of the allegations against him:
- Rape claims and other sexual misconducts
- He has been accused of working with demons
- There are allegations that he is using the spirits of dead people
- Cheating on his wife
- There are allegations of murder leveled by his sister
Allegations Against Archbishop Zondo Were First Made At The CRL Rights Commission Hearing
Born Bafana Stephen Zondo, the bishop started his ministry, the Rivers of Living Waters Ministries together with his wife, Pastor Seabi Zondo in September 1988. At the time, the church had only three members and soon got a classroom at Sokwazi Secondary School for its services. It was there that it continued to grow and spread.
While its membership and strength continued to grow, the unfolding years continued to see some silent talks about inappropriate practices in the church against the main founder and the church itself. But then, it was until 2020 that a proper inquiry began into the activities of the Bishop and the church.
During the hearing, which was overseen by the CRL Rights Commission, church members and alleged victims came forward with testimonies of various forms of abuses against the bishop bordering on sexual misconduct, financial mismanagement, and even witchcraft, among other things.
What Was Bishop Zondo Accused of?
1. There are allegations of rape
One of the main accusations that have been leveled against him was that of rape. Among the different people that accused him of rape was his own relative, a woman named Meisie Reaname. According to her, the preacher raped her a long time ago when she was only 7 years old while he was around 17.
Reanme alleged that at the time the incident happened, she went to stay with the family of the bishop in Vaal alongside her brother. Her mother went to stay with some relatives for a while. Recalling the alleged exploitation, she said she was playing with another child on the verandah when Zondo called her into the house to come and wash his socks, but when she got into the bathroom, there were no socks. He allegedly told her to wait for him while he brought it, but he called her again into their grandmother’s bedroom, where he allegedly raped her.
She revealed that he proceeded to rape her three more times before she decided to run from the house. The woman also added that although before the incident she was a smart child, the incident affected her. There were several other church members, including a woman named Sibongile Mofokeng, who claimed she was also raped by him.
2. Bishop Zondo is also accused of murder
There have also been accusations of murder against the bishop, but what is probably most surprising about the accusation is that it also came from his own sister, Khabonina Zondo, who claimed he murdered some people who knew about his dark secrets, including her father.
After she made the accusation, the pastor, through his lawyers, dragged her to court demanding R500,000 for what they described as defamation.
3. Allegedly working with demons and dead people
Another very serious allegation against the embattled bishop was made by his former church member who was also a pastor before he left, Andile Mali. According to Mali, Zondo has always been a very powerful man who used demons to possess the bodies of his victims.
The actor claimed that during a prayer session, if he places his hands on someone, one would fall and one’s spirit would be replaced by that of a demon since one’s spirit is no longer in one’s body. He claimed that the bishop would be able to ask one’s spirit which is no longer in one’s body how much one has and other personal information. The former pastor said it is as a result of the demonic possession that takes over the bodies of people, and they will speak in your body.
Mali added that during such deliverance classes, people are turned to zombies, and that is why before it starts, the minds of people are summoned to the territory with the words; “we call your minds to this territory.” He also claimed that the bishop is guarded by the spirits of dead people in the guise of doves, owls, and bats that always followed him.
More than just this, there are also allegations of witchcraft against him. He was accused by a woman of using some powers to split her into two people underwater.
Other allegations against Bishop Zondo
There are many more allegations that have been slammed against Zondo since the CRL Rights Commission Hearing. Former members and some people who used to be close to him have accused him of various other crimes, including satanism, womanizing, causing the end of marriages, sleeping with women as sacrifices, and feeding on blood. Also, he has been accused of having sexual relationships with his male members.
The Sexual Abuse Scandal Was First Reported To The Police Back In 2016
Although it is now that the light is very much shining on the bishop and his alleged nefarious ways, his name has been linked to sexual misconduct since 2013 when a church member accused him of first raping her and even before then. Nonetheless, it was around 2016 that the police were involved.
As revealed by the alleged rape victim, she was invited by the pastor to his office back in June 2013 for a prayer session, during which she fell from the couch she was sitting on while Zondo took off his t-shirt. When she asked him what he was trying to do, he claimed he was praying for her. He allegedly overpowered her before raping her, after which he went to the bathroom.
In a police report, it was claimed that the alleged victim reported that he made it clear to her that he was Zonda and so even if she told anyone, she wouldn’t be believed. She was said to have claimed in the report that the event took place in 2016. When the archbishop was contacted, he stated that on record, he knew nothing about the allegation.
Zondo’s Marriage Reportedly Almost Gave Way
BISHOP ZONDO'S WIFE HAS LEFT THE FAMILY HOUSE
Bishop Stephen Zondo's wife, Seabi has allegedly left her matrimonial home, because she found Zondo with the Head of HR, Itumeleng Ngulela, allegedly having sex at the church in Zondo's office – Rivers of Living Waters Ministries, pic.twitter.com/VO2vgQ92YX
— Solomon Izang Ashoms (@SolomonAshoms) January 20, 2020
The Rivers of Living Waters leader was said to have almost lost his marriage early in 2020 due to his alleged philandering ways. It was claimed that his wife, Seabi Zondo, walked away from the union after she caught him cheating in the church office with a woman alleged to be the Human Resource Head church, Itumeleng Ngulela.
It was reported that his wife, also a senior pastor in the church, had stopped coming to church after the alleged affair. However, when her husband was contacted for comment, he stated that he had always lived through many accusations, but he was still happily married to his wife and would not do anything that was going to violate his office.
The Allegations Have Cost Him Many Members
Since the allegations were publicly made that the pastor was involved in some unholy affairs, he continued to have issues both with the law and with his congregation as many of his members have taken a leave.
Even before many decided to come out and speak against him, the aforementioned case of adultery that he was allegedly involved in had started seeing his numbers go down. As reported, some members revealed that the only reason they were still attending the church was to get words of encouragement.
Previously, the church had 50 branches all over the country and also in Botswana, as well as more than 20,000 members while his sermons are broadcast on various channels, including One Gospel, Dumisa, Soweto, and Tshwane TV. Since the cases of his alleged sexual misconduct, many people have continued to leave his church.
The exodus of members came, despite the allegations that they were threatened to either die or become extremely poor if they ever left the church. He was said to have made the threat to members after they started questioning some of the practices they were not comfortable with.
What Did Archbishop Zondo Have To Say About The Allegations Against Him?
As the allegations continue to mount against him, the bishop has kept mute for a while, raising questions on why he chose to remain silent amidst the raging issues brought against him. With more outcries, he has since made attempts at clearing his name at various given opportunities. He has maintained that the allegations against him were simply false and are only aimed at tarnishing his image and bringing disrepute to him.
He stated that his investigation by the CRL Commission had subjected him to a court of public opinion and he was already judged. Zondo said he was not sure whether the commission was exposing him or carrying out an investigation, but it was all to ridicule him. The issues with his sister and niece are all family-related issues, according to him.
In addition to that, the embattled Zondo revealed that the allegations have brought violence on his life, putting his life and that of his entire family in danger. Based on how the investigation has gone so far, the archbishop claimed that he was still yet to decide if he was going to attend the hearing if he was ever invited because he has already been judged, and he doesn’t know who he will go and answer during the hearing.
Has Bishop Zondo Been Legally Charged with Any Crime?
With investigations still ongoing as regards the alleged misgivings of Archbishop BS Zondo, he has still not been charged to court for any of the allegations. As previously stated, he was once reported to the police for allegations of rape, but nothing came off of it.
As regards the hearing of the commission, Bishop Zondo is still yet to have his say before the panel even though, as stated, he doesn’t know if he will want to appear before the panel if he gets invited at the end of the day. With the outcome of the investigation still awaited, it is not known if he will get indicted for anything and what it might all lead to.