The High Court has compelled the Swakopmund Regional Court to hear the third bail application of a pastor, accused of kidnapping and raping members of his congregation.
Appeal judges, Christi Liebenberg and Herman January, concluded the Swakopmund Regional Court was wrong in dismissing Sackeus Paulus (34) without affording him an opportunity to call witnesses and place sufficient evidence before the court for a ruling.
“We find that the presiding magistrate erred when concluding that the appellant’s application bore no new facts without evidence placed before the court by the appellant or the state,” said the judges.
The court remitted the matter to the regional court and further directed it to hear Paulus’ application.
They further stated that presiding officer Nelao Brown failed to follow bail procedures, which dictate the court to firstly hear facts from both sides and thereafter consider those facts alongside the facts deduced from the first bail application; only then would the court be able to make a ruling.
Brown denied Paulus bail, citing that his second bail application did not have new facts on which the court could consider releasing him on bail.
The court was also of the view that the evidence indicates that Paulus directed some church followers to entice the complainants to withdraw the charges against him. The court was of the view that Paulus’ interference with the witnesses was a serious matter, as some of the witnesses have since become uncooperative and have refused to give statements.
The followers allegedly offered one of the complainants N$13 000 to withdraw the case.
Brown said although there is no evidence that Paulus will abscond; it would not be in the interest of the public nor the administration of justice to release him on bail pending the finalisation of his case.
Aggrieved by this, he appealed the matter.
Paulus is facing two counts of rape, two counts of kidnapping, a count of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, and a count of common assault.
The incidents allegedly occurred between 2018 and 2019.
For the first complainant, the state is alleging the offences started in 2017 when she joined the church.
At the time, the complainant was 18 years old.
The alleged offences started after she confessed to Paulus about her guilt of having sexual relations while not married. Paulus allegedly told her that she needed deliverance, as a “seed of fornication” was in her stomach.
Paulus allegedly took the complainant to an isolated dark space in DRC and ordered her to undress and disembark from the car.
Paulus drove off, leaving the naked complainant in the dark alone.
He returned after a while, and told her he needed to remove the “seed of fornication” so she does not become a prostitute.
He said it could only be removed by having sexual relations.
After the act, Paulus allegedly prayed for her – and told her as his spiritual father, he had a right to beat her.
He also ordered the complainant to rub her stomach to rid of the “seed”. On a separate occasion, Paulus told the complainant he foresaw a “terrible battle” coming her way, and she needed deliverance.
Thus, he locked her up for two weeks, and she was rescued only when one of the congregants reported the matter to the police.
Pertaining to the second complainant, who at the time was 21 years old, was allegedly called by Paulus for a one-on-one consultation.
He informed her that he sensed something moving in her stomach – and thus had a “spirit of lust, seduction and prostitution”.
He allegedly raped her to deliver her from the spirit.
After the incident, Paulus would occasionally demand to have sex with her against her will.
The complainant asked Paulus to stop by threatening to report him.
However, he allegedly said he will kill her and will turn the allegations against her. Furthermore, his followers would believe him and not her. - firstname.lastname@example.org