ACCUSED: Phala

ZCC elder accused of raping 9-year-old relative

# Begs for bail so he can attend church service in SA.

“If you remand me in custody how will I go to Moria? I am supposed to go to Moria in South Africa on the 29th of this month,” spluttered 67-year-old Zion Christian Church (ZCC) member Edison Phala.

Proudly puffing his chest out to show off his perfectly polished ZCC badge, the bemused grey-haired Tutume elder appeared before Masunga Magistrate Court on Friday.

He is accused of raping a nine-year-old female relative.

Despite the seriousness of his alleged crime, Phala nervously requested his freedom.

He begged to be allowed to travel to the ZCC’s South African headquarters for an important service at the end of the month.

However, his religious conviction failed to impress presiding Magistrate, Segametsi Basinyi.

Indeed, much to Phala’s dismay, the Magistrate said she was unconvinced by the old man’s apparent devotion to ZCC and his desire to visit Moria.

“You put the badge on just so you can say so!” exclaimed a dismissive Basinyi.

Although he protested his innocence, it is feared Phala has been abusing his young relative over a sustained period of time.

According to a source close to the case, the allegations emerged on Wednesday (14 August) when a teacher noticed the child was limping and ‘did not smell good’.

“When the teacher confronted her, she said the old man was sleeping with her in the blankets and that in the night he sleeps on top of her,” claimed the source, adding the girl was then taken to the police, who brought Phala in for questioning later that day.

Dressed in trousers and a jacket that drowned his sturdy frame, Phala spoke rapidly, in deepest Kalanga when given the chance to address court.

“I do not know how they saw the child like that; the teacher even took her to the clinic. I did not touch the child! You could have brought her and the person who reported to the police before court,” stated the aging suspect.

Upon realising he was on to a loser with his ‘Moria pilgrimage’, Phala subsequently changed tact.

“At least release me on bail on condition that I clean at Madikwe kgotla. It will be better because I will be taking care of my daughter who has a small baby. She is not feeling well and sometimes she falls over. I am scared she will fall on top of the baby!”

Becoming increasingly agitated as he continued his bail appeal, the ZCC member went on to say, “That is my request my worship.

“My child is of ill health and I also have livestock that I am taking care of. Even at the fields I am not done with harvesting.”

Once again, his request proved unsuccessful.

Magistrate Basinyi told the accused that the case was only two days old and investigations were just starting.

“Calm down, you do not have to use much energy because this case still has a long way to go. You are still going to come to court many times,” she said, before remanding the old man in custody.

To add insult to his wounds, Phala was told his next court appearance is on the 29 August – the same day he had hoped to attend the service in Moria!