‘Why is Omotoso being considered for bail?’

Alleged sex-pest pastor Timothy Omotoso
Alleged sex-pest pastor Timothy Omotoso
Image: EUGENE COETZEE

Rape-accused pastor Timothy Omotoso should not even be considered for bail because of the seriousness of the allegations against him.

This is the view of ANC MP Nancy Sihlwayi, who addressed a women’s dialogue at the Nangoza Jebe Hall in New Brighton, Port Elizabeth, on Friday.

The former Eastern Cape social development MEC told about 150 women who discussed how to dismantle patriarchy and level the playing fields with their male counterparts that the criminal justice system was “not entirely on our side”.

“As ANCWL we are revolutionaries, we must be radical if we want to see the change and be extreme because these systems go deep and are not easy to dismantle.

“We cannot be soft-spoken and allow our rights to have limitations when there are none.

“And the justice system is also not entirely on our side.

“We have to lobby the justice minister to actually come to Nelson Mandela Bay and address us on how the so-called pastor Omotoso is even being considered for bail when he has [allegedly] violated so many women.

“And you have other women defending his [alleged] actions and further humiliating his [alleged] victims, who are women. Where is the ANCWL?”

Omotoso and co-accused Lusanda Sulani, 37, and Zukiswa Sitho, 29, face 63 main and 34 alternative charges including rape, sexual assault, human trafficking and racketeering.

He has been in jail since he was arrested at the Port Elizabeth International Airport in 2017.

He will be in court on November 2 as his bail application continues.

Sihlwayi said churches were also guilty of oppressing women.

“You’ll hear whispers in church corridors, whispers by other women, that so-and-so was not a good preacher, only because she’s female and you’ll hear them say it would have been better if so-and-so who is a man was preaching.

“And it is the same in places of work, once a woman reaches the top, she’s in the boys’ club and blocks other women from entering that club because, ‘how can there be two of us?’.”

Sihlwayi said she was “pained” because the ANCWL’s regional task team did not attend Friday’s event.

“One of the issues being asked is what role does the ANCWL play because generally people see it as a non-functioning arm of government and their absence here does not help that negative narrative.”

Sihlwayi challenged women to stop treating boys differently from girls.

There are different interpretations of patriarchy and it is often found to be the root cause of gender-based violence but we always think patriarchy and associate it with men — but it is not, other women are contributing to the continued oppression of women.

In our homes, women contribute to this oppression by treating the boy child different from the girl child.

“Your son is unemployed and a good for nothing but you continue to give him money even though you do not know what he is going to do with the money — that is constructed socialisation by the family and that creates systems of inequality in the family, and mothers are guilty of that,” she said.

ANC MPL Babalwa Lobishe said Friday’s dialogue was the first in a series of discussions that would take place at the same venue over the course of the next month.

She said they wanted to gather as many women as they could and have a discussion that would produce a plan or policy that would provide speedy intervention on challenges that faced women, especially in the political arena.

“We have to discuss and debate because we do not see things the same way.

“Today is about capacitating each other on ways to handle these challenges, Lobishe said.

Gender inequality is not new, it informed the adoption of the women’s charter in 1954 because even then women were oppressed and not recognised the same as men.

“But if you take a look now very few women are positions of power in church, business and government.”

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