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60-year-old Lawrence Gwaza of Kwekwe had pleaded not guilty when he appeared before Gweru regional magistrate Mr Morgan Nemadire facing three counts of rape.
According to Sunday News, Gwaza was acquitted after it was established that the sex was consensual and that the complainants did not make a formal report to the police.
Gwaza was arrested at the instigation of a Superintendent Muza from Zvishavane who heard one of the victims testifying in church. It was argued that the complainants did not intend to report the matter to the police.
Mr Nemadire found Gwaza not guilty. While testifying in court, one of the victims (name withheld) alleged that she was failing to conceive for 10 years in her marriage, only to be impregnated by the pastor who is known at the church as Jesus.
“Your Worship, I didn’t force them to have sexual intercourse with me, but I proposed to each of them and they both agreed to have sexual intercourse with me. On the issues of pregnancy l don’t think I’m the father,” said Gwaza in his defence. One of the women said she was impregnated twice while the other was impregnated once.
One of them, a 37-year-old teacher, took to the witness stand. She said out of respect for her pastor and “the scriptures,” she gave herself to Gwaza on several occasions between August 2002 and July 2003. The woman said Gwaza visited her village under Chief Negove where she resided before she was converted to his church.
“At first Gwaza invited me to an evening prayer together with three other congregants and told me that I was being used by the devil so he wanted to remove the spirit that was in me. He told me that he was going to use his manhood to drain the evil spirit which was in me and he took advantage that I had faith in him as my pastor and he forced me to have sexual intercourse with him,” she said.
The second witness said she was raped while at Gwaza’s residence in Zvishavane in 2008. The witness, who was failing to conceive, was allegedly converted to the accused’s church seeking spiritual healing. “I was in a marriage for more than 10 years but failing to conceive and the pastor told me that he was going to help me to have a baby. He invited me to his house to pray for a pregnancy, and I had sexual intercourse with him several times until I got pregnant,” she said.
Prosecuting, Mr Andrew Marimo, said sometime in 2001, Gwaza went to Mberengwa for his pastoral work and the first complainant was converted to his church. The court heard that between August 2002 and July 2003, Gwaza had sex with her without her consent on many occasions. It is the State’s case that, as a result of the alleged rape, the complainant gave birth to a baby girl.
“On the second count, during the year 2008, the accused called the complainant into his bedroom and had sexual intercourse with her without her consent and she gave birth to a baby girl again,” said Mr Marimo. The prosecutor said in November 2002, Gwaza hoodwinked another congregant and raped her. She gave birth to a baby boy.
The matter came to light when the complainant joined another church and testified during a church service what happened to her.