Mpuma bishop acquitted on rape charge

Tonga - The Boschfontein Regional Court in Mpumalanga on Thursday found a bishop not guilty of raping his 13-year-old niece.

"After gathering all the evidence and listening to all witnesses in this case, I find you not guilty of rape. You are free to go home," said Magistrate Edgar Moletsane.

The 56-year-old man from a village near Komatipoort, and his wife, who testified during the trial, cried out loud in court when he was acquitted.

The couple made so much noise that the court orderly had to take them out of the court.

The bishop was arrested on 23 January 2012, after being accused of raping the girl in 2011.

Although he pleaded not guilty to rape, his lawyer requested, during the bishop's previous appearance last month, that he be given a lesser sentence if found guilty.

However, Moletsane told the court on Wednesday the State's case was not strong enough for him to convict the bishop.