Palapye, Botswana, March 2012
A distraught pastor of the Holy Ghost Church in Palapye is still trying to piece together what drove a suspect to rape and then murder a young member of his congregation during a church crusade.
Hundreds of mourners are expected to attend the funeral of the murdered Form Three student that will be held in Lobatse this weekend.
The suspect, aged 19, has already revealed shocking statements to the effect that his intention was only to rape not to kill. He revealed this to both the pastor and the police during interrogation.
On Tuesday last week, suspect Mogomotsi Sethaba of Serorome Ward in Palapye was arraigned before the Palapye magistrate on four criminal counts, ranging from murder, rape, burglary to theft.
According to the charge sheet, Sethaba, on count one, is charged with murdering Priscilla Zongo on the 2nd of this month; the second charge states that Sethaba raped the deceased on the same day.
On the third count, it is alleged that Sethaba broke into one Karabo Mphosa’s house and on the fourth count, he is accused of theft of goods worth P2066.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Palapye branch Holy Ghost Church pastor, Paul Ketlhoilwe, talked about the last hours he saw the deceased alive and the disturbing revelation by Sethaba during police interrogation.
“The church often holds all night prayer services every monthend in-order to uplift our spiritual connection with God,” Ketlhoilwe stated.
The visibly heart-broken pastor said that on that night, Friday evening, the deceased, an active church usher, apparently went to the toilet alone, something the church has always discouraged as the school toilets area is dark with no lights.
He said in the early hours of Saturday, between one and two, the deceased’s sister looked for her but could not find her during the service. The search then intensified.
“I never thought such a cruel thing could happen to the innocent girl, let alone to anybody, because we were at church,” he said.
Ketlhoilwe said that when the sun rose, the deceased’s sister went to the toilet and saw the deceased shoes outside the toilet and that led to the discovery of the body.
He further said he was shocked by Sethaba’s narration on how he murdered the young girl.
Ketlhoilwe said Sethaba claims that he was at a near-by bar and was attracted by music that was being played during the church service and then went closer to the school fence from where he saw the young girl entering the toilet alone.
Sethaba said that he quickly jumped over the fence and went straight to where the deceased was and threatened her before raping her.
Ketlhoilwe further said that Sethaba described how he strangled her with the usher’s garment and raped her while she was unconscious.
“I still cannot believe that such an incident has happened in our church and I hope that the congregation will pull through,” said Ketlhoilwe.
He said the deceased will be buried this Saturday in Lobatse.
Meanwhile, Sethaba will appear for his next mention of the 14 of this month and is being remanded in custody.