A GWANDA woman escaped death by a whisker when she was brutally assaulted by a pastor during a cleansing ceremony.
A pastor from Zion Church of Christ (ZCC), John Gochani (65) of Betsa area pleaded not guilty to assault, but was convicted by Gwanda resident magistrate Mr Takudzwa Gwazemba.
He was sentenced to 105 hours of community service at Betsa Primary School.
In his defence Gochani told the court that it was their church’s belief to assault patients when driving away evil spirits.
When he was asked whether the evil spirits had gone, he said they had not, but were going to be driven away after another assault if she had not reported the matter to the police.
The prosecutor, Mr Mazwi Goto, told the court that on 10 February, the complainant, Mrs Gugu Nzima (45) went to Betsa ZCC congregation where she was referred to by a pastor from Garanyemba.
She was sent there for a prayer session since she was not feeling well.
Upon arrival Gochani asked the complainant why she was there and she said her pastor had referred her to the congregation.
She then handed him a letter from the pastor.
Gochani then ordered a female church elder to take the complainant to a place where the prayer session was to be conducted.
On arrival she was told to take off her clothes except for the bra and panties.
Gochani later came and started assaulting Mrs Nzima with a switch and she sustained serious injuries as a result.
The matter was later reported to the police, leading to his arrest.