During the third day of his formal bail application contraversial Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso’s movements in and out of South Africa raised suspicions when it was revealed that he had left South Africa at least three times with a new passport while his South African work permit was issued in his old passport.
This was revealed during witness testimony in the Port Elizabeth magistrates court.
Immigrations officer with the department of home affairs Inspector Ivan Claasen said it was suspicious that Omotoso was able to leave the country and return when the passport he used did not contain the work permit.
Allegations that Omotoso had been deported to South Africa from the United Kingdom back in 2000 due to alleged fraudulent documents were refuted by the defence while submitting responding affidavits yesterday.
Claasen testified that he was first given photocopied pages of Omotoso’s two passports held by his defence team but said he needed the original document to verify authenticity of the passports and the work visa.
Omotoso is facing 22 charges related to contravening the sexual offences act with two definite charges of rape contained in the charge sheet.
Hawks investigating officer detective warrant officer Peter Plaatjies testified on Thursday that 13 complainants had come forward with another 12 still to give statements.
It is alleged that the complainants, some as young as 13, were taken to the Omotoso’s Jesus Dominion International’s mission house in Durban by henchwomen who coerced that girls into performing sexual acts on him.
During the earlier court session before Classen was called by the state defence advocate Alfonso Hattingh told the court that his client had “suicidal thoughts” after his arrest on April 20 and that the conditions he had to endure while in custody at Mount Road police station were not up to standard.
“I [Omotoso] was traumatised because of what happened to me [during the arrest at Port Elizabeth airport],” read Hattingh adding that his client felt “degraded” by the way he was treated by members of The Hawks during his arrest.
Hattingh said the defence team would prove “numerous disputes in facts” which he claimed would arise during the course of the trial adding that Omotoso denied all allegations against him.
Questions were further raised about preferential treatment when Omotoso arrived at the court without handcuffed and in an unmarked SUV.
In a cellphone video captured of his arrival it is clear that Omotoso climbed out the vehicle unassisted and unrestrained carrying a bible and his signature sunglasses.
Hawks national spokesman Robert Netshiunda said there was nothing untoward about Omotoso arriving in an unmarked car and carrying his belongings to court.
“The suspect was arrested by The Hawks and is brought to court with a TRT [Tactical Response Team] escort. Some suspects book in their belongings … If he comes here and gets bail then he had his belongings with him,” he said.