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Omotoso trial: Judge Makaula dismisses Defense's leave to appeal application

By Afikile Lugunya - Oct 30, 2018
Omotoso trial: Judge Makaula dismisses Defense's leave to appeal application

Judge Mandela Makaula on Tuesday dismissed an application by the lawyers of controversial Nigerian televangelist and Senior Pastor of the Jesus Dominion International church, Tim Omotoso, for leave to appeal his decision to not recuse himself from the trial over alleged bias.

However, Omotoso and his co-accused, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho, who face a total of 97 charges - 63 of which are the main charges and 34 are listed as alternative charges, were given time to deal with the application.

Judge Makaula said that it was time to grant the applicants to follow whatever procedures they want to process.

"It is in the interest of justice that I don't continue with the trial while we wait for the result," he added.

The matter has been postponed to 10th December 2018.

Meanwhil, Omotoso will remain in custody while his co-accused, Sulani and Sitho, remain out on bail.

'Omotoso being treated unfairly'

The defence lawyer, Peter Daubermann, speaking ahead of Judge Makaula's ruling, said that Judge Makaula, was failing to give his clients a fair trial.

This followed after the fully-armed police officers guarded the doors at the Port Elizabeth High Court.

Daubermann asked why some people were being excluded from the court.

He noted that the trial is of public interest and should be made public, which means that everyone, who feels like coming to court must come.

"The family and supporters of my clients are being treated unfairly. They are given 10 tickets and I don't know how or who determines the number of tickets they should get," he described.

He further asked Judge Makaula to do something about the "irregular proceedings."

"Stand the matter down and summon the Minister of Police because all we are asking for is a fair trial."

State procecutor, Nceba Ntelwa, argued that the matter should be dealt with after Judge Makaula has made his court ruling.

Judge Makaula, was to dismiss the Defense's application that they be granted leave to appeal his decision last week to not step down from hearing the Omotoso trial.

'Judge Makaula is biased in the Omotoso trial'

According to Daubermann, his clients based the application to have Judge Makaula step down on a message he delivered on Wednesday last week in which he wished the State's first witness, 22-year-old Cheryl Zondi, well on her exams and to forget about what is happening in court, but to focus on her exams.

The Defense said that this was among many of the remarks made by the Judge towards Zondi, which showed he may have already decided that her version of events was correct.

"There is no point of continuing this trial before you. There is no alterio motives on their sides, Omotoso is only asking for a fair trial and he believes that he won't get it before you," Daubermann continued.

He advised Judge Makaula to think hard before making a decision to the application.

He had added that if he stepped down, Zondi would be called again to testify before another judge.

"If you refuse this application now, and other witnesses come forward with their testimony and later your decide that you want to excuse yourself from this, then we would have to start over again."

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-accused, Lusanda Solani, to the abuses.

Still, the accused refused to plead to all the charges against them.

"How do you plead if you don't even know the charges? The charges are very vague they are impossible. This case won't be over," Price described.

Judge Makaula is now expected to announce his decision on Tuesday next week.

Judge Makaula wishing Zondi well on exams

Price said that they don't have a problem with the Judge wishing Zondi well on her exams, but what they have a problem with is when he said that "she is not here for herself, but for justice and that she must go and write exams while she let justice prevail."

He added that the meaning of what judge Makaula said can be easily interpreted as "meaning that you go and write exams and I'll sort this man out."

Meanwhile the State Prosecutor, Nceba Ntelwa, argued that the defence has failed to come up with grounds that there was bias on the part of the court in the three weeks that the Omotoso trial has been heard.

He added that the test to grant leave to appeal is based on whether there is a prospect success to Defence's side and he is confident that it will fail.

The Deputy Minister of Police, Michael Mkongi, who was also present in court on Thursday said that he was very satisfied of the dignity the courts possess and the support given to the victims.

"Generally we are giving support that is necessary for us as police. Victims as police are our metals and we need to defend them," Mkogi said.

The trial is expected to conclude in December.

FOR SA condemns rogue Pastors

On Monday, Freedom Of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) said that it was concerned that like Omotoso, more and more pastors were being caught abusing members of their flock.

CRL Rights Commission to brief Parliament

Meanwhile, it is expected that the developments in the ongoing trial of controversial Nigerian televangelist and Senior Pastor of the Jesus Dominion International church, Pastor Timothy ‘Tim’ Omotoso, will not escape discussions at the National Assembly.

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) is on Tuesday expected to brief Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency.

Discussions will centre around the abuse of women and children by religious leaders/sector.

Ahead of the Omotoso trial, the Commission made a public plea that Omotoso's victims and victims of any other religious leader, come forward to help ensure that their abusers are jailed.

The Commission also commended Zondi for being brave enough to be able to face Omotoso - her alleged abuser, in open court.

Zondi has also been praised for her bravery and fortitude by the Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency and the Ministry.

They also condemned Omotoso's Defence lawyer, Peter Daubermann, for brutally cross-examining Zondi.

Drama at the Omotoso trial

The Omotoso trial has so far not been without its drama after two women were thrown out of court after claiming to be Omotoso's security detail:

Daubermann was also confronted by an angry mob over his cross-examination of Zondi:

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