The Home Affairs Department will investigate Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso after it was found he had been flitting in and out of South Africa in a suspicious manner.
These irregularities were raised during Omotoso’s bail application yesterday in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court.
Omotoso, 58, left South Africa three times with his new Nigerian passport, while his South African work permit was issued in his older Nigerian passport.
This is according to Home Affairs immigrations inspector Ivan Claasen, who testified in court.
For the third day of his bail application, Omotoso was neatly dressed in a red suede jacket, carrying a bible and his trademark sunglasses – looking anxious and tired.
Omotoso faces 22 charges related to contravening the Sexual Offences Act with two definite charges of rape contained in the charge sheet.
Omotoso’s defence, led by Advocate Alfonso Hattingh, told the court the pastor had “suicidal thoughts” after his arrest on April 20 at the Port Elizabeth Airport.
Hattingh also revealed that conditions Omotoso had to endure while in custody at the Mount Road station were not up to scratch.
He read out a statement by Omotoso, saying: “I was traumatised because of what happened to me [during the arrest.” Defence attorney Alwyn Griebenow had taken four Nigerian passports with him to Claasen’s office but had only given him the most recent two to verify.
Claasen told the court that if any of Omotoso’s documents proved fraudulent, all other documents would be invalid and he would be a “prohibited person” in the country.
He said it was suspicious that Omotoso was able to leave South Africa and return when the new passport he used did not contain a work permit.
“The last time [Omotoso] travelled he used his new passport. Three movements were noted, with endorsements made by immigration officers at OR Tambo Airport.”
He said he found it strange the work permit was in Omotoso’s old passport and not the new one he used to enter South Africa.
Claasen said he was first given photocopied pages of Omotoso’s two passports held by the defence team, but he needed the original documents to verify authenticity of the passports and work permit.
Allegations that Omotoso had been deported from the United Kingdom in 2000 due to alleged fraudulent documents were refuted by the defence in responding affidavits yesterday.
But magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi ordered that the defence hand over the passports to Claasen so he could verify their authenticity, that of the work permit and if he was deported from the UK.
Hawks investigating 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 women who coerced the girls into performing sexual acts on him.
Hattingh said the defence team would prove “numerous disputes in facts” which he claimed would arise during the course of the trial.
Disputing the prosecution’s claim Omotoso had no permanent residence, Hattingh provided photocopies of access cards used to access the Palm Lakes Estate in Durban where Omotoso lives.