Women claim pastor had sexual relations with them.
AN EAST London church is struggling to recover from an embarrassing scandal after a string of women worshippers revealed they had sexual relations with the leader of the church – the charismatic Pastor Zakhele Ntiwane.
Ntiwane is a well-known preacher and a self-proclaimed prophet and leads Power of the Cross church in Amalinda, which often attracts more than 1000 worshippers. He owns one of the fastest-growing Christian radio stations in the province, Izwi Lethemba.
All his Sunday sermons are streamed live by the station.
The Saturday Dispatch, which has been investigating the allegations for three weeks, can today reveal more than a dozen women from Power of the Cross have come forward to claim they have had liaisons with Ntiwane – a married father of four.
Some of the women are married and their husbands are or were leaders in the church.
The claims by the women first emerged at the time of the Easter holidays. One even claimed to have aborted a child fathered by the pastor.
This sent shock waves through the church. Numerous attempts by leaders in the church to prevent the claims reaching the public, including holding meetings with the women individually, have failed to cover up the scandal.
The church has lost hundreds of worshippers to other local churches since the revelations emerged.
The women, some of whom are still members of the church, are receiving counselling from other pastors. A number of them have left East London and the church.
During the investigation the Dispatch was given the names of nine women. Three of them spoke openly but requested anonymity. One referred us to the church while others refused to speak.
Numerous attempts to speak to Ntiwane were unsuccessful.
A Dispatch team yesterday visited his offices in Pefferville after numerous phone calls went unanswered. Numerous voice messages and text messages were also left for him.
Late yesterday Ntiwane, who the Dispatch understands was out of town, switched off his phone. His wife had also not responded to questions at the time of going to print.
But a member of the church claimed Ntiwane confessed to everything during a church meeting held at Sinovuyo High School in Pefferville.
“After the investigation he came out and confessed. He told us that whatever we heard, big or small, was what happened, and he was sorry. People started to call other church leaders to help him,” said the man.
As the pastor of the Power of the Cross church, Ntiwane reports to Living in Divine Purposes Ministries in Hazyview, Mpumalanga.
Pastor CQ Khoza, the president of Living in Divine Purposes Ministries, who mentored Ntiwane when he was starting out as a pastor, confirmed the scandal.
Khoza was one of the leaders called upon to intervene when the allegations surfaced.
“I came down [to East London] to talk to him and he confessed to some of the allegations of sleeping with these women but he was not willing to change,” said Khoza.
“When I was there I heard of how these women will have to [undergo] abortions, and some telling of how they slept with him,” Khoza said.
His church had now cut all ties with Ntiwane. “We have stopped communicating now.
The sex scandal has also been the talk of the town among Christians. in East London. after details reportedly first emerged in April this year. Ntiwane has spent the last four months meeting with those involved or affected.
The allegations are, however, not new as last year a woman, in her mid-20s, went to report Ntiwane to the church’s leadership after he promised to make her a “special lady”.
“Pastor Ntiwane, a person who I regarded as my father, told me he will make me a special woman and we will keep this a secret.
“I went to speak to the church leaders, including his wife. But they never listened. They said I was telling lies,” said the woman.
But after she went public with this, a number of women came forward to report Ntiwane was either asking them for sexual favours or were already having sexual relations with him.
Another woman spoke this week of how she was forced to have an abortion.
“I can’t really talk about this. It’s painful. I am really scared of Ntiwane. I respected him but when he said he wanted to sleep with me, I got confused, I was vulnerable.
“I had to do the abortion as my parents would have asked what happened as they know I am a born-again person.
“I aborted, that was my first child. I have never had a man in my life,” said the woman.
She begged the Dispatch to protect her identity.
A woman, who is known for being active in the church, said she was not ready to talk.
“At this stage I have no comment, not now, I am not ready.” — firstname.lastname@example.org