Omotoso trial: Cheryl Zondi received 'God will kill you' threat before testifying

2018-10-21 10:00
Cheryl Zondi weeps as she testifies during the trial against controversial Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso and his co-accused Zukiswa Sitho and Lusanda Sulani in the Port Elizabeth High Court. (Lulama Zenzile, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

Cheryl Zondi weeps as she testifies during the trial against controversial Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso and his co-accused Zukiswa Sitho and Lusanda Sulani in the Port Elizabeth High Court. (Lulama Zenzile, Gallo Images, Netwerk24, file)

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The first witness in the rape trial of Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso, Cheryl Zondi, received death threats in the weeks before her court appearance, a report said on Sunday.

The 22-year-old 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.

This was according to Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, chair of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic Communities who was quoted in the newspaper.

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

The Sunday Times reported that security had been increased in order to protect Zondi.

Protests, meanwhile, were expected outside of Omotoso's Jesus Dominion International (JDI) church in Port Elizabeth on Sunday, with extra police and security present, eNCA reported.

Civil society and other human rights organisations want to prevent congregants from attending, and are demanding the church be shut down, the broadcaster said.

This week, Zondi testified in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth trial of Omotoso and his two co-accused. They are accused of 63 charges and 34 alternative charges, which include rape, sexual assault and racketeering.

READ Omotoso trial: Cheryl Zondi's cross-examination 'brutally inhumane' - Dlamini, Memela

Zondi's decision to testify in open court has captured the public's attention. She has been hailed for her bravery and holding her own against what many supporters found to be an "inhumane and unnecessary style of cross-examination" by Omotoso's lawyer, advocate Peter Daubermann.

She has been given the option to reschedule her exams at the University of Johannesburg where she is studying marketing.

Zondi on Friday thanked the South African public for their support following her week of testimony.

"I am so overwhelmed. I don't not know where to begin. I cannot believe the amount of support I am receiving, let alone the fierce, passionate level of support that is being shown by multitudes of women and men alike, both young and old," she said in a statement.

"How do I thank you? How do I even begin to express my profuse gratitude to you?"

The trial continues on Monday with a second witness taking the stand.

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Read more on:    cheryl zondi  |  port elizabeth  |  crime

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