A Harare-based pastor walked out of prison this week after the High Court overturned his conviction of raping a female congregant at his prayer room in New Canaan, Highfield, Harare.
Pastor Onbert Mapfumo (43) of Grace Ministries was convicted of rape in July 2017 after he took a woman congregant into his room to pray for her deliverance from evil spirits, but then said he had to be intimate with her.
The trial court after hearing the complainant said this was unlawful pressure, and so was rape, but the High Court disagreed and found the woman had consented.
Mapfumo was on Wednesday acquitted after serving four years of the effective 22-year-jail term imposed on him four years ago by a Harare regional magistrate.
In his judgement, Justice Pisirayi Kwenda said he could not find how the victim was subjected to unlawful pressure to induce her to submit herself to be intimate with the pastor.
He noted in his judgment that Pastor Mapfumo had made his intention clear that he wanted to bed the woman as part of the “spiritual healing process”.
And after the first act, the woman even went back to receive her final intimacy healing, with Justice Kwenda finding that she let him do it because she wanted to derive benefit from it.
He said the woman was not under any apprehension about the fact that she was indulging in intimacy with her pastor.
Mapfumo appeared in court facing six charges of raping female congregants but was convicted on two counts of raping the female congregant on two separate occasions sometime in 2015.
He was slapped with a total of 28 years in jail, but six years were suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour.
Mapfumo was, however, acquitted of three counts with one of the charges having been withdrawn before the matter went for trial.