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SA Council of Churches condemns despicable practices by Omotoso

Nov 1, 2018
SA Council of Churches condemns despicable practices by Omotoso

The South African Council of Churches says the conduct of controversial Nigerian televangelist and Senior Pastor of the Jesus Dominion International church, Timothy 'Tim' Omotoso, and other pastors, who prey on their flocks, must be condemned.

Omotoso and his co-accused, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho, face a total of 97 charges - 63 of which are the main charges and 34 are listed as alternative charges.

The Omotoso trial is currentlyon adjournment following presiding Judge, Mandela Makaula's refusal to step down from the trial.

“The people of South Africa and the churches have watched with gripping horror and disbelief the trial proceedings of the so-called pastor, Tim Omotoso, charged with rape and human trafficking,” described General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches (SACC), Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana.

He added that the manner in which the victim, “young and courageous” Cheryl Zondi, "was brutalised" during her cross-examination by Defense Advocate, Peter Daubermann, was reminiscent of the apartheid Security Branch interrogation.

“It left many aghast and with serious questions about the conduct of the judicial system.”

As a result, Daubermann was confronted by an angry mob:

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.

Bishop Mpumlwana added that the South African Council of Churches condemns outright any of the despicable practices for which Mr Omotoso has been indicted.

“To name anyone who conducts such practices as a pastor is to grossly misrepresent what it means to be a pastor,” he said.

“The brutalisation of a rape victim in the manner we have witnessed urges us to call on the Judicial Authorities - the Department of Justice, the National Prosecuting Authority, and the Office of the Chief Justice, to give serious consideration to the creation of special courts for rape charges that will have a particular code and culture, that prevents the additional victimisation and brutal humiliation of victims.

“The SACC is making representations to the justice authorities in this regard.”

Bishop Mpumlwana also said that the SACC is exploring an appropriate way of establishing an “Unburdening” Process for both the religious and business sectors.

“On the former, to provide a facility for people and victims to tell their stories and be afforded appropriate ministries even ahead of possible court proceedings for which they would need to be emotionally prepared,” he said.

“Cheryl Zondo’s heroism is outstandingly remarkable, and very few would have survived that frightful Omotoso defense grilling. An intermediate ‘unburdening’ process might encourage more victims to come forward.”

He added the humanitarian NGO Rape Crisis has previously estimated that if all rape cases were reported, the number would more than 1300 cases per day in South Africa; adding in summation, that “the nature and extent of rape in South Africa, as well as the inadequate systems in place to respond to it, continue to pose a significant obstacle in the path towards achieving a just society in which citizens, and particularly women, can live with dignity and freedom from the fear of sexual violence.”

Bishop Mpumlwana said; “For this reason, the burning matter of gender based violence is in the current SACC initiated National Convention of South Africa Process to Reimagine, Redesign and Reorganise the South African life experience.”

He said that the Omotoso case, together with the Eastern Cape Ngcobo ‘Seven Angels’ religious rogues, who preyed on innocent people, brings into sharp focus the urgent need to root out criminality masquerading as religious practice.

“This comes back to the pressing matter of concluding on the acceptable manner of regulating the church sector in ways acceptable to churches and to government for the protection of citizens, and the upholding of appropriate ethical and professional standards in the practice of Christian pastoral ministry in all traditions of Christian expression.”

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