Pastor accused of rape granted bail

| Johnnie Isaac
Demonstrators outside the bail hearing of a Khayelitsha pastor accused of rape. Photo by Armand Hough.

The Khayelitsha pastor accused of rape has been granted bail at the Khayelitsha Magistrate’s Court.

Magistrate Gary Haremse has ruled that Themba Mathibela will remain under house arrest for 24 hours. He can leave his house but only when attending church, going to school for matters related to his children, or to see a doctor between 6am and 9pm.

The pastor has also been ordered not to visit Khayelitsha except when attending a court hearing for his trial. He may not leave the Western Cape without written permission from the police or state prosecutor.

More about the case Pastor accused of rape

Haremse said that the state has failed to present compelling evidence that if the accused was released on bail he would not comply with the bail conditions, interfere with the state case or escape the country.

On the alleged threats towards witnesses, the magistrate said Mathibela made those threats prior to his arrest and when unaware that he was facing imminent arrest.

Regarding the State’s case, Haremse described it as “frail if not without merits”, although he was not suggesting that the accused cannot be found guilty if he stands trial.

He said the diary and text message evidence the defence produced made no suggestion of rape and its reliability was never disputed by the prosecution.

Haremse said the prosecution adopted the “No smoke with no fire” approach when deciding to oppose the bail and it didn’t pay attention to the rest of the evidence. He also said the investigating officer appear to have been cornered into opposing bail by the circumstances that led to arrest.

However, he said, charges of rape are extremely serious. He described Mathibela as a man who identified the needs of his victims, supported them and exploited their vulnerability and respect they had for him. He said Mathibela did not behave like a married man with five children. Haremse said Mathibela’s congregation didn’t seem to abide by Biblical values towards adultery, but moral standard had no bearing on the bail application.

Mathibela will appear in court on the 15 July.

Khayelitsha Ward 97 Councillor Rhyder Mkutwana who attended the bail hearing addressed a disappointed community audience and told them to accept the outcome and respect the rule of law.

Mkutwana said, “The release of Mathibela on bail doesn’t mean he has been acquitted of the charges.” He told Groundup that some supporters of the accused went to the house of the complainant after the ruling with the intention to taunt her. Mkutwana said, “The Magistrate was not taking such matters into consideration.”

This story has been updated with additional reporting.

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TOPICS:  Crime

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