A senior pastor from the Rivers of Living Waters Ministries has once again defended the church’s leader, Archbishop Stephen Zondo, who has been accused of rape by several women.
Lydia Malete yesterday told the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) that her relative, who claimed she was raped by Zondo, was lying.
She first defended him in a radio interview in 2012 after the woman told her story.
“As a child of a pastor… I know that if they [pastors] are succeeding, there will be allegations,” said Malete.
“They [people] will say the man or woman of God has snakes and all of that.”
She said the woman, who she introduced to the church and accused Zondo of rape, was attacked by someone else. She said she had been given someone else’s name when the relative told her about the rape.
Zondo has denied all rape allegations levelled against him.
“She [the victim] was always speaking respectfully of him [Zondo]. She never spoke bad about the archbishop; she spoke to me about an artist who raped her,” she said.
“If she had told me she was raped by the archbishop I would have taken further steps…”
Malete said she was shocked when the victim made allegations against Zondo on radio in 2012. In response, Malete said, she also went on radio to defend Zondo.
“She was free to tell me everything even at church. When someone hurt her she was able to tell me.”
Malete said she grew up where a man or woman of God was not spoken badly about.
But she admitted that her own father, who is a local religious leader, has been critical of Zondo, but Malete claimed he is being influenced by other pastors.
She said she apologised to Zondo about the allegations because she felt responsible as she was the one who brought her to the church.
“I told him that I am embarrassed and very sorry about what she [the rape accuser] said on radio,” said Malete.
Malete, who has been accused by other people of being Zondo’s enabler, was requested to testify at the commission last month but claimed she was too sick to do so.
Malete and Zondo also applied for an interdict in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg against the hearings. The application was dismissed.
The hearings continue.