Ricochet News

Omotoso trial suffers another postponement - this time to April

By Afikile Lugunya - Feb 4, 2019
Omotoso trial suffers another postponement -  this time to April

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

Their trial was again postponed -  this time to April, pending an outcome of the Defence's application to the Constitutional Court to have presiding Judge Mandela Makaula to recuse himself from the trial over alleged bias and to have the charges against the trio dropped.

The application to the ConCourt follows after the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) dismissed the Defence's bid to remove Makaula and have the charges dropped in December.

State attorney, Nceba Ntelwa, told the Port Elizabeth High Court that they agreed to postpone the matter to the 16th of April pending the outcome of the of the application at the ConCourt by Omotoso and his co-accused.

The trial had been expected to conclude in December if it had not been for the delays.

Omotoso arrested at PE International Airport

Omotoso has been a languishing at the St Albans Correctional Facility, just outside Port Elizabeth, since his arrest at the Port Elizabeth International Airport in April 2017.

He had just landed at the Port Elizabeth International Airport after evading arrest for days when the scandal came out.

At the airport, Omotoso apparently tried to avoid arrest by first lying about his flight's arrival time then hiding in public toilets at the airport when he found armed officers waiting for him.

He later made two attempts to get bail, which failed.

Two women, who are alleged to have been responsible for recruiting and grooming girls for the 59-year-old Pastor, Lusanda Solani (36) and Zukiswa Sitho (28), were also arrested last year.

Omotoso and co-accused refused to plead

At the start of the trial last year, 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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