Ricochet News

Omotoso launches appeal in Port Elizabeth High Court

By Afikile Lugunya - Nov 24, 2017
Omotoso launches appeal in Port Elizabeth High Court

With two women, who allegedly recruited and groomed girls for him, expected in court on Friday, controversial Nigerian televangelist and Senior pastor of the Jesus Dominion International church, Tim Omotoso, who has been languishing at St Albans Prison since his arrest in April, on Thursday launched an appeal in the Port Elizabeth High Court.

Omotoso, who was not present during the court proceedings, lost two bail applications in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court.

The 59-year-old pastor was arrested on 20 April by the Hawks in Port Elizabeth.

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.

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 was brought before Judge Glen Goosen, who kept both his 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.

Judge Goosen will deliver his judgement next week.

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)'.