A 53-year-old pastor with one of the largest religious congregations in South Africa could be imprisoned for the rest of his life after he was allegedly caught while raping a 12-year-old juvenile in a toilet.

The preacher, whose identity cannot be revealed due to the sensitive nature of the crime, was referred for psychiatric examination after he appeared in the Grahamstown Magistrate’s Court on Monday, charged with rape.

Magistrate Sarel Strauss also postponed the cleric’s case to Wednesday this week.

The man of the cloth was arrested on 23 February 2023, after a relative caught him pants down, bonking the minor in a toilet.

According to reports, the man-of-the-cloth is known to the victim as he is the foster mother’s friend and they also attend the same church.

Children’s rights activist, Petros Majola, who was outside the court called for no bail said he was in disbelief that members of the girl’s church did not show up in court – and that the church had not issued a statement to condemn the alleged incident.

“I also expected them (church members) to come out in numbers in support of the victim. Their silence is shocking. They are not distancing themselves [from the accused] or openly showing support to the victim,” he said.

The accused faces a minimum sentence of life imprisonment, as per the charge sheet.