AN Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) pastor based in Highlands, Harare, appeared in court yesterday on allegations of fondling a female congregant’s private parts while praying for her to pass her driving test.
BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
The cleric, Benny Hwata (57) denied the indecent assault charge levelled against him before magistrate Francis Mapfumo granted him $50 bail and remanded the matter to June 27 for trial.
It is the State’s case that on March 21 this year, the complainant, a 30-year-old woman, went to the Vehicle Inspection Depot for her driver’s licence road test, but failed because she could not clearly see the road markings.
She later visited Hwata’s office in the evening and narrated her ordeal.
Hwata allegedly told her to kneel close to his desk and he placed his hands on her head so he could pray for her, but complainant proposed that they moved to the centre of the room where there was more space.
During the prayer session, Hwata allegedly moved his hands from the complainant’s head to the neck, breasts and fondled her. He later allegedly unbuttoned her blouse and touched her tummy and back.
The complainant allegedly tried to remove his hands, but was overpowered and she then stood up and sat on the sofa. It is alleged Hwata then pulled the complainant from the sofa and forcibly touched her private parts.
The State alleges the woman protested Hwata’s conduct and started crying as the cleric switched to praying in tongues while inviting the complainant to come back for more prayers.
The complainant allegedly dashed out of the room and reported the matter to the police, leading to Hwata’s arrest.
Farirai Undenge appeared for the State.