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Victims of Pastor Tim Omotoso urged to come forward as trial begins

By Afikile Lugunya - Oct 2, 2018
Victims of Pastor Tim Omotoso urged to come forward as trial begins

Controversial Nigerian televangelist and senior Pastor of the Jesus Dominion International Church, Pastor Timothy Omotoso, will stand trial in the Port Elizabeth High Court beginning Monday next week.

Omotoso’s trial is expected to conclude in December.

A local activist, who blew the whistle on the alleged abuses that girls suffered at Omotoso’s church in Durban, Pamela Maro Mabini, told RNEWS that she has been working with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) trying to get more girls to come forward and help in Omotoso’s prosecution.

Charges against Tim Omotoso

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.

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.

The disgraced man of cloth faces more than 60 charges relating to sexual exploitation, racketeering and human trafficking.

About 60 girls, some as young as 13 years old, are alleged to have been sexually abused by Omotoso at his church in Umhlanga, Durban, under the pretext of healing them.

Maro said that she had been in touch with the Chairwoman of the CRL Commission, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, so that they can help Omotoso’s victims get justice.

Assisting Omotoso’s victims

The activist said that they have also worked to find jobs for the girls that were allegedly molested by Omotoso.

“Without Mama Xaluva, I’d say that I really cannot imagine how I'd be right now or even began to help the girls," Maro described to RNEWS.

"She managed to assist me to get professional help for them together with the parents.

"Some families were fighting; there was no unity and love - they were blaming each other saying that ‘we were there because of you’ we managed to make peace.”

Breaking the news to families about abuse at the hands of Omotoso

Maro described how hard it was for her to break the news to many of the parents that their children, who they placed in the hands and trust of Omotoso were actually being molested.

“The pain of breaking the news to parents and saying your child was being molested is indescribable,” she told RNEWS.

"Having to watch families break and blame each other all because of what you said to them is honestly not easy."

According to Maro, the families will need time to totally heal after having gone through what their children went through with Omotoso.

Omotoso victims urged to come forward

On Tuesday, the spokesperson of CRL Commission, Mpiyakhe Mkholo, said that the commission is happy that Omotoso will finally stand trial for his alleged crimes.

He called upon anyone, who may have been victimised by religious leaders, to come out and report such victimisation to the CRL Commission and the police.

"The Commission further urges all religious and community organisations to provide support to all the people who have been victimised by their religious leaders,” he added.

"The Chairperson of the CRL Rights Commission says that the Commission will support the survivors who will be appearing in court and she hopes that justice will be seen to be done throughout the duration of this case.”

Not everyone is happy about the trial though, as many Jesus Dominion International church members often protested the arrest of the man they fondly call 'Papa' outside the courts.

For Omotoso's supporters, he is the victim of a carefully planned plot against his church and his victims are being used to tarnish his image and the image of his church.

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