HARARE – Goodness and Mercy Ministries founder Tapiwa Freddy easily overpowered his alleged rape victim because she has one hand, a court heard on Thursday.
The 33-year-old woman was attacked by the self-styled prophet in her Mt Pleasant Heights home just months after her husband’s death, the National Prosecuting Authority charged.
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“You’re my wife now,” Freddy allegedly told the woman after the attack on a date in November last year.
The alleged victim did not immediately call the police because she feared for her reputation and was concerned about threats made by Freddy, who allegedly claimed to have spiritual powers. “Your God is not the same one I believe in,” the 38-year-old is alleged to have said.
Freddy was released on free bail by Harare magistrate David Mangosi after the police and the NPA used the summons route to get him to court. Typically, suspects in serious crimes such as rape and murder are taken to court in police custody and refused bail.
Freddy was remanded out of custody to December 6.
For the prosecution, Anesu Chirenje told the court that the alleged victim’s husband fell sick in November 2019 and she approached Freddy for assistance. The preacher allegedly gave her US$2,500 to take her husband to Karanda Mission Hospital.
The man later died and Freddy reportedly assisted with funeral expenses.
Within months, the NPA says Freddy – who is married – started making sexual advances on the widow but she turned him down, citing cultural customs which impose a year-long period of mourning on the surviving spouse.
On a date in November last year, the prosecution said Freddy offered to drive the woman to her rural home in Chiyendambuya, where she intended to pick up her child. They drove back to Harare, arriving at 7.30PM.
“The accused (Freddy) went straight to the complainant’s bed. After some few minutes, the accused person stood up and faced the complainant. He told the complainant that he was now her husband,” Chirenje told the court.
“The complainant rejected the offer. Despite the complainant’s refusal, the accused took off his clothes. Taking advantage of the complainant’s amputated left hand, the accused person forcefully placed the complainant on the bed… and raped her once without her consent.
“The complainant cried for help but no-one heard her because of the distance between her bedroom and that of the next person. After the rape, the accused person asked the complainant to consider him as her husband from that time on.”
Freddy reportedly left the woman’s home at about 10PM. The NPA says the woman called her uncle the following morning and said she had been raped by Freddy. She did not follow her uncle’s advice to call the police “fearing for her reputation and also the threats from the accused person.”
Chirenje said Freddy went to the woman’s house several times after the first incident, each time timing the visits with her menstrual periods cycle.
In July this year, the alleged victim is said to have noticed a sore on Freddy’s penis and refused to sleep with him.
“The accused person went to hospital for medication. The following day, the accused person returned and forced the complainant to have sexual intercourse with him without protection,” Chirenje alleged.
Freddy, it is alleged, increasingly became physically abusive and started interfering with the woman’s work.
In August this year, Freddy allegedly asked to meet his alleged victim at Moja Shopping Centre where a furious row ensued. Freddy allegedly slapped her and forced her to the ground where she took time to get up owing to her disability. The court heard that Freddy “nearly ran her over with his motor vehicle” as he sped off.
He allegedly called her later expressing remorse and offering to pay for her medical expenses, an offer which she turned down.
The NPA says the victim sought counselling from the Family Support Trust. A counsellor could be called to testify.
Freddy, of Glenview 8, was not asked to plead to the charges during his brief appearance.-Zimlive