A Forty-nine-year-old pastor of a Newcastle church yesterday pleaded guilty in the Pietermaritzburg High Court to six counts of rape .
Michael Hlongwa, who has two previous convictions for indecent assault, pleaded guilty to the rape of six young boys aged between nine and 12 years.
Holding his head in his hands as his plea was read into the record by his counsel, Hlongwa said that while his permanent home was in Pietermaritzburg with his wife and two daughters, he was an active member of the local church and took a keen interest in counselling members of the congregation.
The pastor at the church asked him to go to Newcastle to assist in resolving problems being experienced by the congregation.
He then moved to Newcastle in 2008 and was given free accommodation near the church.
His family remained in Pietermaritzburg.
Hlongwa then went into graphic detail about how during October 2008 to October last year, he lured six young boys to his home, in separate incidents and he raped them.
Hlongwa described how he would then pay the boys and promised bicycles in return for their silence.
He gave one young boy R5 after raping him, the court heard.
In some instances, Hlongwa admitted that he had persuaded the parents of these boys to allow them to spend the night with him, so that he could counsel them. Hlongwa raped some of the boys more than once.
In mitigation, Hlongwa's counsel, Kelvin Singh, argued that while this was a heinous crime, Hlongwa was currently receiving counselling from members of his church for his "problem".
"I believe that Hlongwa is a candidate for rehabilitation and has expressed remorse for his actions. While he should be removed from society for a long time, he should be afforded the opportunity to one day return a changed man," Singh said.
Hlongwa has a teaching qualification, but has never taught at a mainstream school.
His wife is a teacher in Pietermaritzburg.
Prosecutor Prettygirl Ngcobo said Hlongwa should be sent to jail for life.
"This was a trusted and respected member of the community and he betrayed them in the worst possible way," Ngcobo said.
She said the rape of a child was the most appalling and reprehensible abuse of power that a man could commit.
"These young boys and their parents have to now live with the trauma of what happened to them every day for the rest of their lives.
"One can only imagine what their futures will be like after enduring this terrible ordeal," Ngcobo said.
Hlongwa will be sentenced on February 1.
People in the public gallery of the courtroom expressed disgust and outrage at Hlongwa as he was led down to the holding cells.