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'Omotoso trial has seen more girls coming forward about abuses at churches'

By Afikile Lugunya - Oct 12, 2018
'Omotoso trial has seen more girls coming forward about abuses at churches'

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) says more girls have come forward asking for help to get justice following their plea through the media.

Last week, the Commission made a public plea that victims of controversial Nigerian televangelist and senior Pastor of the Jesus Dominion International Church, Pastor Timothy Omotoso, and any other religious leader, come forward to help ensure that their abusers are jailed.

The Commission's Chairperson of Legal Services and Conflict Resolution Committee, Sheila Khama, has been attending the Omotoso trial from day one.

After the postponement of the case, Khama commended the first state witness, 22-year-old Nombulele Cheril Zondi ,for being brave enough to be able to face Omotoso - her alleged abuser, in open court.

Zondi detailed how she joined the church and was later sexually abused by Omotoso at his Durban home.

She also linked one of Omotoso's co-accsued, Lusanda Solani, to the abuses.

"This marks a new chapter in our democracy more especially for young women to say that wherever they are, they mustn't keep quiet when they are abused.

"It shows passion that young women can stand up on their own," she added.

Omotoso trial highlights need for caution at places of worship

Khama said that places of worship are supposed to serve the purpose of guidance, morals and offering protection, but many shocking events in South Africa have occurred at places of worship - from pastor's feeding people grass, snakes and to spraying them with pesticides.

"We are however cautioning the places of worship, these are our children that we send them to be part of the religion but are not to be abused," she said.

Khama further warned families to be concerned about the main reason why their children sit at places of worship in this day and age.

"Why do you feel comfortable when we leave our girls in the hands other people without asking any questions?" she asked.

"We should take back our parenting, take care of your children whether they are young girls or boys just be aware of their whereabouts because life is no longer the same now."

More victims of religious leaders coming forward

"We have many young women that are coming up now and talking about their abuses at places of worship," Khama described while adding that no type of abuse should be taken lightly.

She urged people, who are experiencing any kind of abuse by religous leaders - whether verbally, physically, psychologically, financially, or otherwise, to not tolerate that behavior and rather report it to the authorities.

She also urged young girls to never ever keep quiet when something is done against their will in any situation.

"If you do not know, then verify it to the next one. You can move out of the place of worship, you can move out from home just don't be comfortable in a space where you feel uncomfortable, tell whoever that you want to tell."

Lastly, Khama said that meetings with all religious groupings in the country will be conducted to discuss a way forward following the many allegations of Pastors abusing their flocks.

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