By Court Reporter
AN Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) pastor could not hide his joy after he was acquitted on allegations of fondling a married female congregant’s privates while praying for her.
Benny Hwata (57) of Highlands was cleared of indecent assault recently by Harare magistrate, Victoria Mashamba.
Mashamba ruled that his accuser’s testimony could not be trusted since she confessed to making the police report only after her husband had discovered her phone text message informing her sister of the incident with the pastor.
“It was the complainant’s testimony that a certain man came into the office in which she was being prayed for twice on the day in question. One would wonder why she didn’t raise alarm.
“After the prayer session, the complainant walked past through the church which was full of congregants but never reported the matter to anyone. The court can only guess that the allegations were either fabricated or that whatever happened was consensual,” she ruled.
Allegations against the cleric were that on March 21, 2018, the female congregant went to the Vehicle Inspection Depot for her driver’s licence road test but failed as she could not clearly see the road markings.
It was alleged that she later visited Hwata’s office in the evening and narrated her misfortune.
The court heard that Hwata told her to kneel close to his desk and he laid his hands on her had but she proposed that they move to the centre of the room where there was more space.
During prayer, Hwata allegedly moved his hands from the woman’s head to the neck, breasts and fondled her. He allegedly unbuttoned her blouse and touched her stomach and back.
The woman allegedly tried to remove his hands but was overpowered and she stood up and sat on the sofa.
Hwata allegedly pulled her from the sofa and forcibly touched her privates.
The State claimed the woman protested Hwata’s conduct and started crying as he switched to praying in tongues while inviting her to come back for more prayers.
She allegedly dashed out of the room.
Idah Maromo appeared for the state.