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READ JUDGEMENT: Omotoso fails in bid to remove Judge Makaula from trial

By Afikile Lugunya - Dec 11, 2018
READ JUDGEMENT: Omotoso fails in bid to remove Judge Makaula from trial

Controversial Nigerian televangelist and Senior Pastor of the Jesus Dominion International church, Timothy 'Tim' Omotoso’s bid to have presiding Judge Mandela Makaula removed from the trial and have the charges against him and his two co-accused, Lusanda Solani and Zukiswa Sitho, dropped failed in the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Omotoso and his co-accused brought a petition to the Supreme Court of Appeals after Judge Makaula had refused to recuse himself from the trial over alleged bias.

On Monday, the Omotoso trial was postponed to next year to allow the Supreme Court an opportunity to rule on the matter.

According to the National Prosecuting Unity (NPA) spokesperson, Tsepo Ndwalaza, the state attorney, Nceba Ntelwa received a call on Monday evening that informed him that the defence attorney, Peter Daubermann’s application to recuse Judge Makaula off the case had failed.

Reasons why Daubermann wanted Judge Makaula gone

When the first witness on the Omotoso case, Cheryl Zondi appeared for the last time after days of cross-examination by the defence, Ntelwa revealed that Zondi has missed an exam while she was in court.

In the following week, Zondi was expected to write more tests and Judge Makaula took an opportunity to wish her luck.

In his best wishes for Zondi, he also told her not to worry about what is going on in court, but to focus on her exams, that’s what triggered Daubermann to want Judge Makaula gone.

Daubermann said that Makaula had to go “because it is clear that his client will not get a fair trial”.

Makaula stays as a presiding judge on the Omotoso trial

“This is to inform you that, late yesterday Advocate Nceba Ntelwa received a call from the SCA informing him that the Omotoso’s lawyers bid to have judge Makaula recused and charges quashed failed,” Ndwalaza said.

Ndwalaza said that the SCA dismissed the application saying there are no prospect of success in the Defence's application.

The trial is expected to continue as planned on the 4th of Freburay to deal with the matter.

“As the NPA, we feel vindicated by this decision and we are ready to ramble,” Ndwalaza said.

Read the full judgement HERE.

Not guilty plea

At the start of the trial, Defence attorney, Peter Dauberman, also explained to Judge Makaula that his clients "refuse to plead to all the charges against them”.

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

Judge Makaula then was forced to put on record that a "not guilty" plead would be recorded on their behalf.

This is not the first time something like this has happened in the court. Earlier this year, a Zimbabwean man accused of killing another Zimbabwean man in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth over a lover, Trust Tofa, also refused to plead and the judge was forced to enter "not guilty" plea on his behalf.

One of the victims and the State's first witness, Chery 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-accused, Lusanda Solani, to the abuses.

Still, the accused refused to plead to all the charges against them.

Defense lawyer Daubermann has since been joined by famous Defense Advocate, Terry Price, in a bid to quash the charges against Omotoso or have presiding Judge, Mandela Makaula, removed.

Price, who became famous while defending disgraced Port Elizabeth businessman and convicted murderer, Christopher Panayiotou, came on board as a Senior Councillor as the Defense hopes to have the Supreme Court of Appeals (SCA) hear why Judge Makaula should recuse himself from the trial.

Omotoso followers seek interdict against ANC et al

In November, congregants from the Jesus Dominion International (JDI) church also applied the Port Elizabeth High Court to interdict the African National Congress and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) as well as other respondents from marching against the church or calling them names - apparently the church members had called “cult worshipers”.

The members subsequently withdrew their case.

Drama at the Omotoso trial

The Omotoso trial has so far not been without its drama after two women were thrown out of court after claiming to be Omotoso's security detail:

Daubermann was also confronted by an angry mob over his cross-examination of Zondi:

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