Ricochet News

Omotoso and his alleged recruiters expected in court

Dec 5, 2017
Omotoso and his alleged recruiters expected in court

Controversial Nigerian televangelist and Senior pastor of the Jesus Dominion International church, Tim Omotoso, is again expected to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on Tuesday - this time with two women, who allegedly recruited and groomed young girls for him.

The 59-year-old pastor has been languishing at the St Albans Prison since his arrest on 20 April by the Hawks at the Port Elizabeth International Airport. Last week Thursday, he suffered another blow when the Port Elizabeth High Court threw out his bail appeal.

Omotoso had launched an appeal in the High Court after losing two bail applications in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court.

He is facing multiple charges related to contravention of the Sexual Offences Act, these include two counts of rape. Some of the alleged victims are as young as 13 years old.

In a short court hearing on Thursday, preciding Judge, Glenn Goosen, noted that the appeal was against Omotoso's failed bail appeal that was delivered in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on 9 June.

He said that a court of appeal will not lightly interfere with the exercise of refusing bail and it must be satisfied that the evidence presented before it, must indeed point out that Magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi erred.

In denying him bail, the Magistrate agreed with the State that if Omotoso is released on bail, he will either skip trial and would interfere with witnesses.

"I am unable to find, upon consideration of the evidence, that the Magistrate erred or misdirected herself in this regard. The court a quou's findings falls within the ambit of Section 60 (4) (c), and in coming to this finding consideration was given to the relevant factors as referred to in section 60 (7)," said Judge Goosen.

He also found that the Magistrate Mashiyi did not make errors in her findings in the arguments brought before her.

"In this instance, the appellant has not so pursueded me. I am accordingly not satisfied that the magistrate wrongly exercised her discretion and that the order refusing bail was wrong. In the result the appeal cannot succeed - the appeal is dismissed," the Judge said.

The alleged recruiters

Both the first accused, 36-year-old Lusanda Solani, and 28-year-old Zukiswa Sitho, pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against them when they appeared before the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on the 24th of November.

They are being represented by Attorney James Riley, who once represented Omotoso, as he sought bail.

According to the State, the two women recruited girls at  Jesus Dominion International church crusades and reported to Omotoso as the Senior Pastor, who come and looked at the girls that had been recruited.

It is alleged, that once satisfied with their looks and "freshness", arrangements for their trips to Durban would be made with the two women. 

The State claims that the two women would tell the girls how to behave around Omotoso and swore them to secrecy or they would die for disobeying a man of God.

The court heard that Solani has been married for five years, is eight months pregnant and has a 3-year-old child. Apparently, at the time of her arrest, she had arrived in Port Elizabeth from Durban, with her husband for a wedding, last week.

Sitho, it emerged, is also married with two children, including a seven-day old baby.

She told the court that she was still in pain after giving birth through cesarean section or C-section.

The State, represented by prosecutor Nceba Ntelwa, didn’t oppose bail due to the circumstances of both women. He told the court that it was in the best interest of justice to allow the women to be released on bail.

Their bail was set at R2 000 and they both were instructed to report to their nearest police station at 6:00am and 6:00pm every Tuesday of the week.

Sitho will report at the Humewood Police Station, while Solani will also do the same at the Glenwood Police Station.

Their passports are still confiscated by the Hawks, but they will be allowed to travel around the province given permission by the court.

Solani will continue to reside at her parents place, which is situated in Motherwell NU5, in Port Elizabeth, until the 5th of December to save travelling costs.

The National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson,  Tsepo Ndwalaza said that the two women are facing the same charges facing Omotoso.

“We can confirm that they did appear in court today and they are facing the same charges as the accused in this matter, but they didn’t rape anybody, but they have been accessory to the counts," said Ndwalaza described.

“We believe that it is not time to say that they are not the only one, there are probably a number of them, who will appear or be arrested as time goes on as we get our darks in a row."