A 58-year-old pastor already serving two life sentences for raping children aged 14 and 16 has been found guilty for three more counts of rape, common assault and calling another person a witch. James Devine Thubakgale, a pastor from the Devine Deliverance church in Seshego, was found guilty of these additional charges at the Polokwane High Court recently.
Limpopo National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said in a statement that Thubakgale preyed on his multitude of followers by presenting himself as a powerful man of God. He told them that he could heal the sick, cast away evil and that he was sent to this world to save them.
Malabi-Dzhangi added Thubakgale demanded that he be called a judge because he was going to be a judge with God at the end of the world. Malabi-Dzhangi added that the accused would demand that congregants bring all their money to the church including their retirement savings and the congregants in his church obeyed and took orders from him as they believed that he was part of the holy trinity and was closest to God.
“Thubakgale would target girls under 16 years who had shown commitment to the word of God, telling them God wanted them to be married. He would then rape the girls at a lodge, in his motor vehicles and also in their rooms which he rented for them. He threatened them that if they refused to either marry or have sex with him, God would punish them for disobedience and there would be death and sickness in their families,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.
“At all times the victims would obey his rules and when they defied him, he would scold them and call them witches who were possessed by evil spirits. He assaulted his victims in full view of other congregants,” she added.
Malabi-Dzhangi said while Thubakgale’s reign of terror started in 2010 and ended in 2017, the victims were not reporting him because they feared death or sickness. Thubakgale’s sentence is expected to be handed down on March 24.