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Omotoso bail appeal dismissed in the Port Elizabeth High Court

Nov 30, 2017
Omotoso bail appeal dismissed in the Port Elizabeth High Court

Controversial Nigerian televangelist and Senior pastor of the Jesus Dominion International church, Tim Omotoso, suffered another blow on Thursday after the Port Elizabeth High Court threw out his bail appeal. 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.

On Thursday last week, he 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.

Omotoso is expected to appear again in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on the 5th of December with two women, who are alleged to have recruited and groomed young girls for him

Bid for bail

In September, he lost his second bid for bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court. 

During his second bid at bail, he was slapped with an additional five charges for contravening the Immigration Act. This is after it emerged that Omotoso has used five passports to move in and out of South Africa since his first visit in 2001. The court also heard that he was now technically an illegal immigrant.

Charges

In addition to the new charges, Omotoso faces 22 charges relating to sexual exploitation and human trafficking after eighteen more charges were added to the original four. He is alleged to have sexually abused several young women at his church in Umhlanga, Durban, under the pretext of healing them.

The disgraced man of cloth was arrested on the 20th of April by the Hawks shortly after he landed at the Port Elizabeth International Airport after evading arrest for days after the scandal came out. Rumours had made rounds that he had already skipped the country.

At the airport, he had 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 has been waiting for his trial at St Albans Prison after his first bail application failed.

Consequently, his wife, Taiwo, appointed a new legal team and set in motion a new bail bid. However, the court found that the new legal team had not presented any new facts to warrant bail.

Appeal

The bail appeal on Thursday last week was brought before Judge Goosen, who kept both Omotoso's attorneys, led by Alwyn Rossouw, and State prosecutors on their toes, until the Defence seemed unable to say what the appeal was for.

Rossouw told the court that Omotoso, does have a valid visa and a passport, so it is strange that the state cannot verify it and instead claims that he is an illegal immigrant. 

He referred to the claim that the pastor has had multiple passports as "normal" because "all non-citizens of any country have to renew their passports now and then".

Rossouw opposed Magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi’s decision of "speculating" that the accused is a flight risk adding that he has travelled to Nigeria more than five times and came back to South Africa.

He further argued that allegations that were made that "the police received a tip off about Omotoso being in a hurry to skip the country" were untrue, adding that his client was heading to a meeting in Port Elizabeth and  when that meeting was done he would’ve went back to Durban - "he was not trying to run away".

Rossouw added that the "tip off was not verified" and after it was brought to light that the accused was arrested for fraud in England, no one verified that false information as well.

“It was also a falsehood that he refused to show his passport because at the time the passport was with his attorneys. The reason that he would commit more crime is most unlikely, these are speculations, therefore the accused should be granted bail,” Rossouw told Judge Goosen.

The Prosecution, led by Nceba Ntelwa, refferred mostly to what resulted in Magistrate Mashiyi refusing bail for the accused.

He also added that the accused knows the names and identities of the victims as a result some had to change their phone numbers because they were being intimidated.

Ntelwa further argued that there is nothing tying the accused to South Africa because he doesn’t have a fixed address and a valid passport, emphasising that the two were most important.

Outside the PE High Court Jesus Dominion Intenational followers came out to show support for their Pastor, whom they call Daddy and joined by children, who were occupying the front and holding cards written 'Set our leader free', 'Free Omotoso ubaba wethu (our father)'.