Lawyer to a Jehovah’s Witness Elder who is accused of raping a fellow congregant has wondered why father of the accused reported the matter to police when his church was capable of sorting out such matters.
Before Lusaka magistrate, Willie Banda, was Dennis Bwale, an elder at the Jehovah’s Witness of Kanyama Congregation.
Bwale, 28, of Kanyama Site and Service, appeared in a case where he is accused of raping Melani Mufweba, a congregant of the same church, contrary to Section 132 of the Penal Code amendment Act number 2 of 2011.
Particulars of the offence are that Bwale, on July 12 this year, did have carnal knowledge of Melani Mufweba without her consent.
When the matter came up for continued trial today, father of the complainant, Kennedy Mufweba, told the court that he came to learn of what had happened to his daughter a month after the incident.
Mr Mufwebu said sometime in September, this year Melani and her mother went to the Kingdom Hall but upon return Melani rushed in the house and left her Bible and other books that she had with her.
He said upon realising that his daughter had gone out of the house for some time and it was becoming dark, he asked where she could have gone but shortly his phone rang.
Mr Mufwebu further said it was at this moment that he was informed that Melani had run away from home and went to her sister’s house.
“As days past he noticed that his child did not want to return home but further resorted to go and stay with her friends’ grandmother,” he said.
Mr Mufweba further told the court that he then decided to go to his church and asked for help so that elders could find out from his child why she never wanted to return to home.
However to his surprise the congregation overseer told him that the church committee was in fact preparing to call him for a meeting to inform him of the report that his child had taken to the church.
He told the court that it was at this point that the elders told him that his child had reported to the church that he was raped by Dennis Bwale, one of the church elders.
Mr Mufweba, however, wondered why the church took long to tell him of the sad news.
“Your honour I was told not to blow out the issue as the matter could be sorted out quietly without people knowing,” he said.
He said he, however, decided to go and report the matter to the police.
Mr Mufwebu further said upon hearing the matter he pleaded with his daughter to return home knowing that she had run away in fear of her parents.
He said his daughter then told him that she was warned by the church elders not to tell her parents, adding that if she did so she would be expelled from the church.
“Your honour, she told us that she ran away from home because she was not happy to keep a secret which was haunting her whenever she looked at us as she thought we could have known,” said Mr Mufweba.
Meanwhile when the matter came up for trial last month, Melani told the court that Bwale called her and told her that she should meet him at the Kingdom Hall as there was something he needed to tell her.
She further told the court that Bwale, who was with his nephew, then asked her to escort him so that he could say what he wanted to tell her.
However along the way around 19:00 hours, Bwale asked her if she loved him.
But in her response, Melani wondered what he meant knowing well that he was engaged to a fellow congregant.
She said it was at this time that he grabbed her and forcefully kissed her.
Melani further narrated that Bwale went on to ripe her skirt and under wear which she showed to the court during her testimony.
The matter has been adjourned to January 11, 2013 as some witnesses in the matter were not present.