For six years, John Philane Masilela purported to be a “prophet of God” and the “pastor” of Good Shepherd Church in Suncity KwaMhlanga, while raping young people who looked up to him as a spiritual guide.
Under the pretence of keeping them from living immoral lives, he would pray for his victims by touching and fiddling with their private parts.
He told the victims that he could see their destiny and that God had commanded him to pray for them in that way.
He also threatened them with dire consequences if they refused. He was sentenced to 55 years in jail on Monday after being found guilty of four counts of rape and seven counts of sexual assault.
According to the National Prosecuting Authority, the 46-year-old committed his ill deeds between 2012 and 2018.
Despite his not guilty plea and claim that the crimes were consensual, Biance Harmse, the court’s prosecutor, led the testimony of seven young individuals who said Masilela would quote Bible verses during the attacks.
“He would claim that he needed to pray for their private parts, touch them, or suck them, in order for them to be protected from being with the wrong women. Some victims broke down in court during testimony,” said NPA spokesperson Monica Nyuswa.
She stated that the court found the accused’s actions to be disgusting and that despite his claim to be a Christian, he saw no fault in touching or sucking their penises to prevent them from engaging in immoral behaviours.
A pre-sentence report documenting how the victims’ ordeal had affected them emotionally was given in court.
“The accused was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on each of the four counts of rape and five years imprisonment on each of the seven counts of sexual assault,” she said.
“The court ordered that four of the sexual assault sentences run concurrently with the rape charges, relating to the same victims. The accused was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.”