Omotoso’s case deferred

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NO BAIL: Nigerian pastor Tim Omotoso is facing charges of sexual assault and human trafficking. PICTURE: GALLO IMAGES

CONTROVERSIAL Nigerian televangelist Timothy Omotoso, 59, will spend Christmas in jail.

The pastor appeared in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday with two women, Lusanda Solani, 36 and Zukiswa Sitho, 28, who are accused of recruiting young girls for him when the case was postponed to January.

Omotoso and co-accused, Solani and Sitho, who were accompanied by their husbands, appeared briefly in court where members of his church, Jesus International Dominion, were chanting outside the court with banners written with his name. The congregants were hiding the accused behind umbrellas for the media not to photograph them.

Omotoso’s wife, Taiwo, was also present with her face not covered from the media this time.

She even took the opportunity to wave at the Jesus Dominion International congregants while surrounded by her attorneys.

The case has been postponed to allow the state to obtain two outstanding certificates from the national director of Public Prosecutions.

Omotoso is facing charges of sexual assault, human trafficking and a separate charge of contravening the Immigration Act while his co-accused are facing charges of racketeering and human trafficking.

Solani, who was arrested on arrival in Port Elizabeth will be going back to Durban on Tuesday and will have to report to her nearest police station as required by her bail conditions.

State prosecutor Nceba Ntelwa also argued that the case should be taken to the high court after they have received a certificate of centralisation of the case and other outstanding certificates.

The state will also be adding charges of racketeering to the numerous sexual and human trafficking charges that Omotoso already faces.

He also faces an additional five charges relating to the Immigration Act.

The pastor, who has been in custody since his arrest, was not present during the court proceedings.

He was arrested on April 20 by the Hawks in Port Elizabeth and failed two bail applications in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court.

Omotoso is facing multiple charges related to contravention of the Sexual Offences Act, including two counts of rape.

Some of the alleged victims were as young as 13 years old. Omotoso faces 22 charges relating to sexual exploitation and human trafficking after 18 more charges were added to the original four.

He is alleged to have sexually abused several young women at his church in Umhlanga, Durban, under the pretext of healing them.

In September, he lost his second bid for bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court.

During his second bid for bail, he was slapped with five charges for contravening the Immigration Act.

This was after it emerged that Omotoso had reportedly used five passports to travel into and out of South Africa since his first visit in 2001.

The court also heard that he was now technically an illegal immigrant.

A bail appeal was brought before judge Glen Goosen in the Port Elizabeth High Court, who kept both his attorneys led by Alwyn Rossouw and state prosecutors on their toes until the defence seemed unable to say what the appeal was for.

Rossouw said Omotoso had a valid visa and passport, so it was strange that the state could not verify it and instead claimed that he was an illegal immigrant.

He referred to the claim that the pastor had multiple passports as “normal” because “all non-citizens of any country have to renew their passports now and then”.

Rossouw opposed magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi’s decision of “speculating” that the accused was a flight risk, adding that he had travelled to Nigeria more than five times and came back to South Africa every time.

provinces@thenewage.co.za

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