Omotoso rape trial: 'We continue to support the man of God', says church

2018-10-25 09:18
Pastor Timothy Omotoso is standing trial for rape. (Eugene Coetzee, Gallo Images, The Herald, file)

Pastor Timothy Omotoso is standing trial for rape. (Eugene Coetzee, Gallo Images, The Herald, file)

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Rape accused Timothy Omotoso's church, Jesus Dominion International, will "continue to stand with and support the man of God", it said in a statement on Thursday.

The trial against Omotoso is set to continue in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

Omotoso was nabbed in April last year in a dramatic arrest operation at the Port Elizabeth International Airport.

His two co-accused, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho, were arrested months later.

Omotoso and his two co-accused are currently facing 63 charges and 34 alternative charges which include rape, sexual assault and racketeering.

Forty-nine witnesses have been called to testify in the televangelist's trial.

"We would like to believe in the justice system and that Rev Omotoso's basic legal right of the presumption of innocence will be upheld. The presumption of innocence principle means one is considered innocent unless proven guilty," the church said in its statement.  

"Rev Omotoso deserves a free and fair trial without any impartiality. As a church we want to believe this will be made possible regardless of his country of origin. God bless."

Controversial Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso is s
Timothy Omotoso in court. (Gallo)

The church has three branches in the Eastern Cape: in Port Elizabeth, Fort Beaufort and East London.   

Its Port Elizabeth branch was shut down on Sunday amid protests at the church, which was found to occupy a building zoned for commercial purposes – not for worship.

READ: Omotoso trial could discourage rape survivors from coming forward - legal experts

The first witness in the trial told the court that up to 30 girls were given nicknames and referred to as "wives" when they stayed in the rape-accused pastor's Umhlanga Rocks house in Durban.

Cheryl Zondi told the court on Wednesday last week that, before she left the house for the last time in 2013, she had been kept in the room next to his main bedroom.

"The girls who lived there were given a nickname and we were called his 'wives'," Zondi, 22, said when she took the stand in the trial in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth.

She described the three accused as her molester, groomer and Port Elizabeth hostess.

Zondi also described Omotoso as a demanding, selfish predator who demanded that she perform "horrible sexual acts".

Zondi reportedly received death threats in the weeks before her court appearance.

The university student was apparently told that she would be "killed by God" because she had acted against a man of God, the Sunday Times reported.

READ MORE: Omotoso lawyer Daubermann: 'I won't allow myself to be intimidated by ignorant people'

Clashes between supporters of Omotoso and protesters are again expected on Thursday.

On October 17, protesters bayed for defence lawyer Peter Daubermann's blood as he left the court building.

Police vans had to rescue Daubermann after a group of women and men chased him. The crowd threw water at him as he raced away.

He incurred the wrath of Zondi's supporters following sharp cross-examination where he implied that she was a willing participant in her alleged rape and molestation.

Read more on:    timothy omotoso  |  port elizabeth  |  courts  |  gender violence  |  crime

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