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Omotoso trial postponed to February when ruling on Judge Makaula will be known

By Afikile Lugunya - Dec 10, 2018
Omotoso trial postponed to February when ruling on Judge Makaula will be known

Controversial Nigerian televangelist and Senior Pastor of the Jesus Dominion International church, Timothy 'Tim' Omotoso, and his co-accused, Lusanda Solani and Zukiswa Sitho, appeared briefly in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday after the trial got postponed in October.

However, the trial was again postponed to February 2019.

This is to allow th Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) to make a ruling on the petition brought by Omotoso and his co-accused for the removal of presiding Judge Mandela Makaulafrom the trial over alleged bias.

Defence attorney, Peter Daubermann, told the court that their papers are before the Supreme Court of Appeals, which is yet to make a ruling.

He suggested that the matter be postponed to the 4th of February when the SCA will have made a ruling.

Speaking for the State, Nceba Ntelwa, clarified for Judge Makaula that the matter could have been resolved by the SCA, but the defense attorneys did not file original documents, which is why the ruling on the matter was denied attention.

Referring to the defence, Ntelwa said: "If they could do that even today they would get the attention they need as soon as possible."

The trial was then postponed to the 4th of February 2019.

Omotoso will remain in custody while his co-accused will remain out on bail.

Not guilty plea

At the start of the trial, Defence attorney, Peter Dauberman, also explained to Judge Makaula that his clients "refuse to plead to all the charges against them”.

Omotoso, Solani and Sitho are facing 97 charges in total including for racketeering, sexual assault and rape. 63 of those charges constitute the main charge sheet while 34 are alternative charges.

Judge Makaula then was forced to put on record that a "not guilty" plead would be recorded on their behalf.

This is not the first time something like this has happened in the court. Earlier this year, a Zimbabwean man accused of killing another Zimbabwean man in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth over a lover, Trust Tofa, also refused to plead and the judge was forced to enter "not guilty" plea on his behalf.

One of the victims and the State's first witness, Chery 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.

Defense lawyer Daubermann has since been joined by famous Defense Advocate, Terry Price, in a bid to quash the charges against Omotoso or have presiding Judge, Mandela Makaula, removed.

Price, who became famous while defending disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman and convicted murderer, Christopher Panayiotou, came on board as a Senior Councillor as the Defense hopes to have the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) hear why Judge Makaula should recuse himself from the trial.

Omotoso followers seek interdict against ANC et al

In November, congregants from the Jesus Dominion International (JDI) church also applied the Port Elizabeth High Court to interdict the African National Congress and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as well as other respondents from marching against the church or calling them names - apparently the church members had called “cult worshipers”.

The members subsequently withdrew their case.

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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