Day of reckoning

Main Stories, National


TODAY is judgment day for “Black Jesus” – the cult figure in Madang who has been found guilty of four counts of rape.
Black Jesus or BJ, better known as Steven Tari Nangimon Garaisi, would be sentenced by Justice David Cannings in Madang after four years of trial.
Police had been pursuing him tirelessly for the past four years to make him pay for his sexual relationship with his flower girls in his cult.
Tari, in his 30s, from Morobe, received pastoral training at Amron Bible College in Madang but did not graduate.
Instead, he moved to Matepi village, 17km northwest of Madang, behind Mt Hanseman, where he “preached” to those willing to listen that he was “god Yali” incarnate, the Black Jesus.
When finding Tari guilty of four of the six counts of rape last week, Cannings had noted that: “Community standards dictate that a person who holds himself out as a preacher, or holds some other position of religious authority and who purports to preach from the Holy Bible, ought not to have sex with members of his church.”
In his movement, he acquired hundreds of flower girls who would hold flowers and stand in front of the podium when he preached. Of the four houses built in his enclosure, three were for the flower girls which he would choose at random for sexual pleasure.
Court documents showed that Tari enticed them into having sex with him, saying: “I am your bridge to heaven”, or “I will open your gate to heaven”. The unsuspecting females, who were told tales of god Yali of afore by their parents, were even told that the current Tari must be the incarnate, the true son of Yali, and were pleased that their daughters were chosen as flower girls, telling them to obey whatever “he says”.
The documents showed that many of the young victims were scared and had sex against their will because they said Tari claimed to be “Jesus” and their answer to salvation.
Tari, whose remarks in court warranted a psychiatrist session, was cleared on April 14 of any insanity and was said to be capable of understanding the proceedings.
The five victims were members of his congregation who served as flower girls.
Three gave evidence about the manner in which they had sex with the accused in which Tari said that “each time they gave their consent, the act was supposed to be a secret among themselves”.
The court heard that the girls were not to tell anyone. It was the law of the culture ministry that, of every three daughters born to a family, one must be given back to God, in his case, god Yali.