The alleged human trafficking trial of the Senior Pastor of Jesus Dominion International, Timothy Omotoso and two others, Lusanda Sulani,41, and Zikiswa Sitho,33, has resumed in the Gqeberha High Court in South Africa.
The case resumed on Monday, August 7, 2023, after yet another failed attempt by the defence to have the case dismissed after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) turned down the defence’s application for a Special Entry in terms of Section 317 of the Criminal Procedure Act, where they alleged irregularities and illegalities in the proceedings that had occurred.
Rev. Omotoso, 63, was arrested on April 20, 2017, for alleged r*pe and human trafficking.
The pastor and his co-accused, face 63 main and 34 alternative charges related to contravention of the Sexual Offences Act. His alleged victims included girls as young as 13.
Luxolo Tyali, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Regional Spokesperson, Eastern Cape Division, confirmed the resumption of the trial in a statement.
“The ninth state witness, Thozamile Ngeva (34), who joined Omotoso’s church when he was 14 years old, took the witness stand. He was led by Senior State Advocate Mduduzi Mzila, who is part of the new three-member prosecution team,” Tyali said.
“The trial has experienced numerous delays since the arrest of the Nigerian national, Omotoso, in April 2017.
“Omotoso was denied bail while the two South African women he is charged with are out on bail. The three are facing charges 63 charges, including racketeering, trafficking in persons, r*pe, and s3xual assault.
“It is alleged that Omotoso, who was addressed as “the man of God”, was the leader of the Jesus Dominion International (JDI) church and his co-accused were his assistants. JDI had major branches in South Africa, Nigeria, and Israel, with Durban being its headquarters in the country.
“The complainants were either congregants, employees or persons selected to take part in the activities of the church when they were recruited under the pretext that they would benefit spiritually or improve the quality of their lives.
“Omotoso allegedly directly or indirectly though his co-accused paid and arranged for them to travel of the complainants to his hotel, Durban, Israel, or Nigeria.
“However, once the complainants arrived, Omotoso or his assistants would inform them of house rules which included that their cellphones be switched off or told not to contact male companions and were to further abide by his instructions.
“The complainants and other female church members were allegedly kept in one room where they also slept. Omotoso would allegedly select one of the complainants to go to his private bedroom where he r*ped or s3xually assaulted them
“The case resumes after yet another failed attempt by the defence to have the case dismissed after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) turned down the defence’s application for a Special Entry in terms of Section 317 of the Criminal Procedure Act, where they alleged irregularities and illegalities in the proceedings that had occurred. The latest application is one of many that have led to delays and the case dragging on for almost six years.”