A South African self-styled prophet, Pastor Confidence Monyela who was accused of raping four teenagers during prayer sessions in his church has pleaded not guilty to five charges of rape and one charge of sexual assault.
Monyela, 32, from Mariveni village, Nkowankowa outside Tzaneen, pleaded not guilty during his first appearance at Lenyenye Magistrate Court.
The leader of the Prophetic Ministry Church in Burgersdorp, Limpopo was arrested on August 25 by members of the police’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit in Tzaneen.
He is alleged to have raped a 12-year-old girl, two 14 year-olds and a 16 year-old.
He stands accused of having raped his victims inside the church on various occasions between December 2016 and August this year.
He would invite them to private one-on-one prayer session and while busy praying, he is alleged to have attacked and raped them.
Monyela claims that his accusers were paid to spread lies about him by another pastor who is trying to tarnish his reputation.
He told the court one of his congregants confessed to him that she was approached by people who offered to pay her if she accused him of sexual abuse.
He said the person behind the bribes was a disgruntled pastor known to him.
"He would come and preach at my church," Monyela said. "He once told me that he wants to be my spiritual father, but I refused."
Monyela also explained the church procedure, saying he would never pray for a person in the absence of ushers.
He said his business helped him support his wife and three children, aged one, two and 10 years.