Omotoso's lawyer Peter Dauberman asks judge to recuse himself from case
Peter Dauberman‚ the lawyer representing rape-accused Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso‚ has asked presiding officer Judge Mandela Makaula to recuse himself from the case.
“I have instructions to ask your Lordship to recuse yourself from the trial. I am going to place certain remarks that your Lordship made under scrutiny.”
Dauberman told the court that his clients‚ Omotoso and his co-accused‚ want Makaula to excuse himself from the trial and allow another judge to take over.
Omotoso‚ 60‚ and his co-accused Lusanda Sulani‚ 36‚ and Zukiswa Sitho‚ 28‚ face a litany of charges ranging from human trafficking to sexual assault and rape.
In an affidavit read out in court‚ Omotoso said Makaula’s comments‚ wishing state witness Cheryl Zondi well for her exams‚ were biased against him. She is a University of Johannesburg marketing student.
“The presiding officer has already made up his mind... he is sympathetic towards Zondi and her cause. He identified [with] and aligned himself to Zondi’s cause‚” Omotoso says in the affidavit.
“He has already decided to mete justice on behalf of Zondi. He is biased in favour of Zondi and the prosecution. He is and will not be impartial‚” Omotoso claimed.
He added that he has not received a fair trial from Makaula.
Dauberman said Sulani shared Omotoso’s sentiments.
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Lawyer cries foul over 'intimidation'
Daubermann spent Monday morning telling the Port Elizabeth High Court how he‚ his clients and their families were being intimidated by supporters of the alleged victims.
Explaining the absence of Omotoso’s two co-accused‚ Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho‚ Daubermann told Judge Mandela Makaula they had been chased by angry mobs when they left the court after their previous appearance last Wednesday.
There was a glaring absence of Omotoso supporters from his Jesus Dominion International church in the gallery on Monday morning.
Omotoso’s wife Taiwo also arrived late in court.
Addressing the court‚ Daubermann said the police presence at court has been “woeful”.
“I myself was chased by an unruly mob when I left the court building last week‚” he said.
Daubermann accused the media of falsely reporting on the case and told the court that he had been labelled a rapist and vilified for representing Omotoso‚ adding that his clients were not receiving a fair trial.
He asked Makaula to make a decision on the matter‚ highlighting that neither the judiciary nor the general counsel of the bar had condemned the attack on him‚ which resulted from public outrage at the manner in which he handled the questioning of the state’s first witness‚ Cheryl Zondi.
“It is my duty to test the veracity of evidence‚” said Daubermann‚ adding that he “cannot allow sensitivities to get in the way.”
Makaula responded that issues raised concerning what happened outside the courtroom should be handled between the defence and state‚ as he only had control over what happened inside the courtroom.
He said there were various options available to Daubermann and anyone else who felt threatened or intimidated‚ included reporting the matter to police or approaching civil courts.
Both Daubermann and state prosecutor senior advocate Nceba Ntelwa were summoned to Makaula’s chambers to discuss the matter further.
Meanwhile‚ during the short adjournment‚ two men were forcefully removed from the court building by security officials and members of the metro police. It’s still unclear why they were removed or who they were there to support.
Inside the packed courtroom‚ minister of women in the presidency Bathabile Dlamini‚ minister of communications Nomvula Mokonyane and Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle sat in the public gallery.
Outside the court‚ crowds continued to gather - both in support of Omotoso and opposed to him.