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Omotoso trial: 'You do Omotoso's bidding or you die' says State witness

By Afikile Lugunya - Oct 10, 2018
Omotoso trial: 'You do Omotoso's bidding or you die' says State witness

The 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, took the stand on Wednesday and directly connected Omotoso and Sonali to the abuses that allegedly happened at Omotoso’s home in Durban.

Early on Wednesday, the witness, 22-year-old Nombulele Zondi, told the Port Elizabeth High Court how she joined Omotoso’s Jesus Dominion International church at its Mpumalanga branch at the age of 13 years old in 2009 while doing Grade 7.

She said that after attending church services many times, she finally went to a National Church conference, which was hosted by Omotoso in Durban.

Zondi also told the court how she was then recruited and later sexually abused by Omotoso. Read HERE.

'Do anything Omotoso asks or die'

"If you are in that church you better do anything he [Omotoso] says you do", Zondi said that she thought to herself when she went back to the other girls after Omotoso had told her that the rape must be their secret.

While asking her to keep what happened a secret, Zondi told the Port Elizabeth High Court that Omotoso told her that "a man of God cannot be arrested" so she made it her mission to protect "the man of God".

"People, who have bad thoughts and disobeyed him fell ill, some died mysteriously, so I made it my mission to keep what happened in that room a secret," she said.

When asked by the State Procecutor how she would describe Omotoso, she said: " He is a liar, abuser, predator, sick man, who thinks that the world revolves around him."

"Were were required to dance whenever he played music, when he threw sweets we'd jump, when I disobeyed him and he called me stupid I'd have to repeat what he said until he forgives me.

"He is a mini God," Zondi said.

"Sometimes he'd say that you South African people are stupid and the whole church would agree. He'd say in church, I carry girls in a bus and my wife knows".

Zondi added that there was a man, who was a member of Omotoso’s Jesus Dominion International church, who died and what surprised her was that Omotoso would go around telling people that "you see what happens when you disobey me.

How Lusanda Solani came into the picture

Continuing with her testimony, Zondi said that when the woman identified as Fezeka left the country, Lusanda took over her duties and became in charge of the girls at Omotoso’s home.

She said that Lusanda was responsible for organizing transport, making sure that the girls came to Omotoso’s room and recruited girls from various Jesus Dominion International church branches to come join them at the Durban home.

“Basically, she was like a personal assistant to Omotoso," Zondi told the PE High Court.

She said that after the rape, she continued being sexually abused by Omotoso for two and a half years.

Zondi left the Jesus Dominion International church in late 2012 after being instructed by her mother to do so.

Crushing over a boy

According to Zondi, in 2012 when she had a crush on a boy at her school, Omotoso knew about it and got angry over the matter so she ended up apologizing to him.

"There was a trip at school, which I attended for the first time, on that day I didn't SMS him, so he kept calling and calling and I was with this boy chilling, of which, we eventually kissed,” she said.

She said when Omotoso found out, she spent hours on the phone with him apologising until her mother intervened and cut the phone call.

Zondi said that Lusanda and the women at the Jesus Dominion International church kept calling her and told her mother that she was misbehaving an needed to be disciplined.

Her mother eventually took a decision and said that she'd no longer be part of Jesus Dominion International church.

Zondi told the Port Elizabeth High Court that she was later diagnosed with depression in 2014, as she longed for Omotoso to apologize for everything he did to her and missed singing at the Jesus Dominion International church.

Went back to the Jesus Dominion International church

So, in 2015, she went back after her friends begged her to return as well as Lusanda and Omotoso.

Zondi said that this time, she wanted an apology and answers.

"I went back looking for answers, I wanted closure."

A ticket was organized by Lusanda and she went to Omotoso’s home. However, Omotoso did no apologize as she had hoped.

She said that a ticket back home was not organized as before, so she was forced to stay in Omotoso’s house again, while making plans to escape.

However, Omotoso warned her against that as he discovered that her behaviour had changed.

She said that security at the house was now tight and she was unable to go outside the gate without supervision.

A plan to escape from Omotoso’s home

"All girls were given money to do their hair, I got R300 and I decided to keep that money and leave that place,” she said.

"My movements were restricted, I was not allowed to go to town.

“I later packed my clothes - as many clothes as I could, and when everyone was asleep, I threw my bag outside the window and it was around 3pm.”

She said that she disregarded the woman, who was on guard, and went straight for the gate and left while insults followed her.

They kept shouting; “Love your life Cheril, you are going to die if you don't come back.”

Zondi said that from Omotoso’s house, she went to her cousin’s residence in Durban.

The trial has been postponed to Monday next week.

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