Mbabane: Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse (SWAGAA) says the case of the sodomy/rapist bishop exposes the gap between civil society interventions and the religious sector, and therefore calls for strengthening of interventions.
The news of the rapist Bishop and teacher Herbeson Mfanasibili Hlophe were reported on Monday by the Eswatini Observer. Hlophe was reported to be a teacher at Patmos Primary School and the Bishop for Emseni Church in Zion at Ondiyaneni area.
Speaking to this publication, SWAGAA’s communications officer Sakhile Dlamini said this case indicates that issues of GBV need to be part of the agenda even in the church as it is a structure of influence. Dlamini said they encourage Emaswati to report all forms of Gender Based Violence, and we hope to see this case go through the justice system timeously and for the law to take its cause.
SWAGAA is open and ready to provide support and services to the survivor and all others alike that may have been exposed to this abuse as well as the parents.
She said it is important to understand that everyone can be an abuser and therefore, the status of the perpetrator being a pastor and teacher should not be considered as an unlikely possibility that he could be a sex offender.
Dlamini as an organization they applaud the parents for reporting the case when they did, as this action not only has it brought the perpetrator to face the law, but will also encourage other survivors to come forward and report. “We are grateful for the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act, (2018) as it makes provisions that previously would not have given this case the due sensitivity. This is a case of rape and should not be reduced to anything other than just that,” Dlamini said.
Dlamini added that it is also highly likely that there are other survivors who have been raped and or sexually exploited or sexually violated by the perpetrator. This has more to do with the perpetrator’s line of work which places him in a favourable position to be working with children.
Dlamini also spoke of the National Register for Sexual Offenders as it is vital, had it been for the register previous offences committed by the perpetrator would have landed him in the register and therefore prohibited him from ever working so closely with children. She said lack of the Sex Offenders register enables and supports the free roaming of sex offenders and paedophiles alike to victimize more children and prey on unsuspecting communities.
“As an organization therefore, we urge people who have been entrusted with the responsibility of working with or looking after children to desist from using that as an opportunity to abuse children. This is becoming a norm to see such happening and it must end.”