Omotoso and two women accused of racketeering in addition to human trafficking and sexual assault
Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso and his two co-accused – one heavily pregnant and another who recently gave birth – will have an additional count of racketeering added to their charge sheets.
The three appeared briefly in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court yesterday, with the matter postponed to January 29.
This is to allow the state to apply for all the charges to be centralised and for the additional count to be added.
Omotoso’s co-accused, Zukiswa Sitho, 28, of Humewood, and Lusanda Solani, 36, of Durban, joined him in the dock after he was brought into the courtroom from the holding cells clutching a Bible and his signature sunglasses.
Sitho and Solani were granted R2 000 bail each two weeks ago.
After the matter was heard, Sitho and Solani waited for nearly an hour before leaving the court in the hope of avoiding journalists waiting outside.
When they eventually emerged, they were led to a white Mercedes-Benz by a group of supporters who attempted to shield them from photographers with umbrellas, placards and clothing.
Omotoso has applied twice for bail in the magistrate’s court, both denied.
Last month, Omotoso approached the Port Elizabeth High Court to have his bail application reconsidered.
However, Judge Glen Goosen denied his appeal, saying that he agreed with the ruling made by magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi and that it was not in the interests of justice to release him.
Omotoso was arrested in April at the Port Elizabeth Airport and has been in custody since.
He is facing 48 charges related to human trafficking, sexual assault and rape.
The state is charging Sitho and Solani with the same counts as accessories to the crimes.
Yesterday, state prosecutor Nceba Ntelwa told Mashiyi that the state intended to request from the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that an additional charge of racketeering be added to the charge sheet.
This would be related to the crimes committed by all three accused.
It is alleged that Sitho and Solani helped recruit impoverished girls, some as young as 13, from their homes in different parts of the country with promises of a better life.
They were then allegedly taken to a house in Durban where they were groomed to perform sexual acts on Omotoso. A total of 18 victims had laid charges against Omotoso, head pastor of the Jesus Dominion International (JDI) church group, which has branches across the country. The charges include at least two rapes.
Omotoso faces additional charges of contravening the immigration act.
Ntelwa also indicated that the state would request that the DPP centralise all the charges for the matter to be transferred to the Port Elizabeth High Court for trial.
Ntelwa told the court that once the certificates confirming the two requests were completed and received, the state would be ready to move forward with the matter.
“We have applied, as the state, to combine all the charges and this should be done by [January 29],” he said.
In the interim, a heavily pregnant Solani will return to Durban to give birth. Her legal representative, James Riley, confirmed his client would return to Port Elizabeth for the next court appearance.