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Omotoso trial: Case might be thrown out after Defence pokes holes in State's submissions

By Afikile Lugunya - Oct 8, 2018
Omotoso trial: Case might be thrown out after Defence pokes holes in State's submissions

The case against controversial Nigerian televangelist and senior Pastor of the Jesus Dominion International Church, Pastor Timothy Omotoso, and his two co-accused, Lusanda Solani and Zukiswa Sitho, might have hit a snag in the Port Elizabeth High Court, where the trio appeared on Monday for the start of their trial on a raft of charges.

Omotoso’s trial is expected to conclude in December.

However, the high profile trial, which has attracted international attention with the presence of Nigerian journalists at the court, may end before it has started after presiding Judge Mandela Makaula, announced that he will rule this afternoon on whether the State needs to rewrite the entire charge sheet and indictment against Omotoso and his co-accused.

This followed after the Defence Attorney, Peter Dauberman, argued that there were discrepancies in the specification of where and when the allegations against Omotoso and his coaccused actually took place. He, therefore, said that the case must be thrown out.

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

Adv Dauberman pointed out to the PE High Court that the indictment says that the offences started in 2009 and continued to 2015 with no specifications on dates and places where the offences actually took place.

Dauberman argued that in every case, the accused has a right and are entitled to a fair trial as is written in the Constitution - and that right of fair trial includes a specific place of the offences written down as well as all details around the case against them.

In this case, he said, that the indictment lacked details of where these alleged offences took place and the closest details of the case include a town and year and city.

Due to this, Adv Dauberman said that it was hard for the Defence to prepare an argument and defence while there are no details about the alleged crimes.

"It's for the State to put up a proper charge sheet, which compiles with the law," he said.

He also asked why the State must be given another chance to get their "house in order" while it had plenty of time all this time when Omotoso was languishing at the St Albans Correctional Facility since his arrest in April last year.

State attorney responds

Arguing for the state, Nceba Ntelwa, said that the State is mainly depending on the evidence and consultations with the applicants, which explains why the charge sheet was written like that.

To this, Adv Dauberman asked the judge why the complainants don't know the dates or cannot workout when the offences were committed.

He also suggested that passports could be checked to determine the period some of the complainants claim they were in Israel when some of the abuses allegedly happened.

Judge Makaula said that the matter will stand down until 3:00pm when he will make his ruling about the submissions and on whether the trial can proceed or not.

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.

Omotoso arrest

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.

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