A pastor for the Apostolic Faith Mission in Zimbabwe (AFM) based in Mberengwa has been hauled to court facing four counts of raping married female congregants. Lawrence Gwaza, 60, allegedly formed a women-only group that he met in the absence of their husbands.
Zvishavane magistrate Story Mushambwa yesterday heard how Gwaza would allegedly threaten to curse the women if they turned down his advances or reported the abuse to anyone.
Gwaza of Matura village under Chief Negove in Mberengwa pleaded not guilty and was remanded in custody to October 27 for trial. Prosecuting,Monica Mungwena, told the court that the clergyman allegedly forced himself on four married women between 2002 and 2008.
Mungwena said in 2002, Gwaza told female congregants that God had told him through dreams to establish an intercessor group in church. The court heard that the intercessor group made up of women was then formed later that year.
“The women would meet every Monday for prayer and intercession,” said Mungwena. The court heard that Gwaza approached the women on different occasions asking them to sleep with him but they refused,saying they were married.
“Gwaza then forced four women to frequently sleep with him saying it was a continuous offering and sacrifice to God so that they would be granted what they were praying for,”said Mungwena.
She said Gwaza threatened to curse the women if they reported the rape to anyone.
“The accused was telling them if they didn’t give in to the rape or told anyone about the issue, God would curse them and their future generations.This went on for six years.”
The court heard that one of the victims tipped off the police after she felt the pastor was taking advantage of her, leading to the clergyman’s arrest.
This case is similar to that of End Time Ministry’s pastor Martin Gumbura who was sentenced to an effective 40 years in prison last year for bedding female congregants after threatening to curse them.