Pastor denies rape, says he loves teen mom
A pastor on Thursday testified at the East London Magistrate’s Court that he never raped a teenager, with whom he has a two-year-old daughter – saying they were in a loving relationship.
Deon Harmes, 51, a pastor at Prophetic Word of Miracles Ministries in CC Lloyd in East London, denied raping the girl, who was 13 years old at the time, in 2016.
Instead, he said he had consummated his love with the girl and impregnated her.
She gave birth in 2017, at the age 14. The girl had been in a relationship with one of his sons, the court heard.
The young teenager cannot be named as the alleged crime is of a sexual nature and she is underage.
Harmes was arrested on Monday after evading the police since last Thursday.
Paternity test results which came out in May pinned him as the father of the girl’s child.
In an affidavit read out by his lawyer, Neil Ristow, to Magistrate Lionel Mitten, Harmes pleaded not guilty to the rape charge.
The pastor, who is a married father of nine, maintained his innocence and said the teenager, a congregant at his church, was still in his church along with her mother and siblings.
He said he was supporting the child he had with the girl.
Harmes said he had evaded arrest because he “panicked” after hearing that he would be arrested.
“I panicked and believed I should first inform my spouse, my children and my siblings and the church to prepare them for the impending arrest.
“I cannot turn back the clock. I’m sorry for what I did at the time,” he said in his affidavit.
State prosecutor Thulani Solani opposed bail because the teenager was a minor at the time of the crime.
Investigating officer Sergeant Luthando Mtyhobile said the girl’s father first blew the whistle in 2016 following rumours from residents in Buffalo Flats about the pastor’s indecent relationship with his daughter.
“Community members told him that his daughter was always with Harmes, even during school hours.
“He was seen dropping her and fetching her from school and suspected that they had more than just a church relationship.”
In 2017, after the child was born, the father demanded that a paternity test be done, Mtyhobile testified.
In what appeared to be a love-triangle, the teenager was also in a relationship with Harmes’s son and had pointed to him as the father of the child.
“But when the results of the paternity test came back last month, they excluded the son of the pastor and only included the pastor. When I went back to the victim with the results, she confessed that she had lied. She said she had slept with the pastor once,” Mtyhobile said.
Harmes’s bail application continues on Friday.