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Omotoso trial: State witness Nombulelo Cheryl Zondi grilled by Defence

By Afikile Lugunya - Oct 15, 2018
Omotoso trial: State witness Nombulelo Cheryl Zondi grilled by Defence

The State's first witness in the trial of controversial Nigerian televangelist and Senior Pastor of the Jesus Dominion International church, Timothy 'Tim' Omotoso, and his co-accused, Lusanda Solani and Zukiswa Sitho, faced a grueling cross-examination from the Defence at the Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday.

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.

Defence attorney, Peter Dauberman, cross-examined 22-year-old Nombulelo Cheryl Zondi on Monday morning with a straight question of why did she choose to testify openly with the presence of the public gallery instead of choosing a private testimony.

Zondi said that she wanted to tell her story to the world so that everyone will know what kind of a man Pastor Timothy Omotoso is.

When asked who else did she tell her story to, she said that she spoke to some journalists and the Hawks, however when she spoke to journalists, her identity was not made public.

Daubermann then  turned to her testimony given last week, trying to find gaps and loopholes by asking Zondi her age repeatedly and the reason why she joined the church.

However, Zondi was not backing down she kept her straight face while answering the question saying that she wanted Omotoso to mentor her and become her spiritual father and to become a great musician.

Without getting deeper in to the question, Daubermann asked if Zondi knew she wasn't supposed to let a stranger to touch her in her private parts without her permission. She said yes.

When asked if she knew anything about sex when in 2009 when she joined the church, she said no she was made aware of that subject in high school.

Zondi said that JDI is not a legitimate church, however when she joined the church she thought that it was legitimate and she was "hungry for Christ".

She further described the church as a charismatic church.

Why did you not scream?

Daubermann was very much interested in why the witness did no scream during the sexual assault by Omotoso.

"I was shocked and almost paralyzed," Zondi described.

"I was scared of opposing him because anyone who opposed him in that church would die."

Daubermann asked if she felt what Omotoso was doing was Biblical.

"No, but he made it seem like God allowed him to do anything he wanted," Zondi described.

Daubermann said that he was bothered by the fact that Zondi carried on like everything was fine while she described how scared she was as Omotoso described to her that if she dared opposed him then something bad would happen to her.

She said that she was a 14-year-old girl who was scared.

Zondi said that she had witnessed how other church members behaved when they were around Omotoso - they would do anything he asked.

How Omotoso cautioned her during the sexual assault

Zondi described how Omotoso cautioned to not go all the way in her v*gina while sexually assaulting her because at the time she was still a virgin.

Meanwhile, Daubermann asked Zondi to give him by how many 'centimeters' did Omotoso enter her.

The question caused tension between Judge Mandela Makaula and Daubermann because Makaula felt that he an unfair question was being asked.

However, Daubermann insisted that Makaula must not disturb his cross-examination because the question was very much "important" to the trial.

Judge Makaula asked Zondi if she knows the centimeters and she said no.

Daubermann was not pleased at all by this and argued with Judge Mandela saying that he was asking the same question he had asked him not to ask.

Judge Makaula said that it was his courtroom, therefore he asked the question, so that they would move on.

Daubermann asked Zondi what happened after Omotoso was done with what he was doing.

Zondi explained that when Omotoso had climaxed, she was instructed to wipe herself and come back to bed where Omotoso fell asleep on top of her.

When he eventually woke up, he prayed and "he told me that what happened was covenant between him and God."

The cross-examination continues

Omotoso trial so far

Dauberman last week explained to presiding Judge, Mandela Makaula, that his clients had "refused to plead to all the charges against them”.

Judge Makaula entered a not guilty plea on their behalf.

Daubermann had also asked the court to throw the case out after the State apparently failed to provide specific details about exactly where and when the apparent abuses happened. 

Judge Makaula ruled that the trial continues.

Judge Makaula did not state any reasons why he decided to proceed with the trial that is expected to conclude in December.

There was also drama at the trial after two women claiming to be Omotoso's security were thrown out of the court building by police.

State witness provides damning testimony against Omotoso and Solani

On Wednesday, the first state witness, 22-year-old Nombulele Cheryl Zondi, who said she was sexually abused by Omotoso from when she was just 14 years old, chose appear in open court.

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-accsued, Lusanda Solani, to the abuses.

The Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) commended Zondi for her bravery and said that more girls have since come forwardasking for help to get justice following their abuse by religiuous leaders.

The trial has also attracted attention from Omotoso's home country in Nigeria.

The trial continues... 

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