Omotoso says state is hiding info

01 August 2019 - 09:21
By Devon Koen
Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso and his co-accused face  charges of rape and human trafficking in Port Elizabeth.
Image: Eugene Coetzee Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso and his co-accused face charges of rape and human trafficking in Port Elizabeth.

The state was yesterday accused of withholding vital information by the defence of alleged sex pest Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso, 60, in the Port Elizabeth high court.

The defence argued that this was preventing them from preparing a fair defence and that a vague charge sheet was being used to prosecute Omotoso and his two co-accused.

Defence attorney Peter Daubermann said the state did not bother to investigate and determine specific dates and places of claims of alleged rape and human trafficking of least 21 young women were some of the main reasons for Daubermann to file an application to the court to make an order to compel the state to provide further particulars to the 97 charges the trio face.

Omotoso stands accused along Lusanda Sulani, 36, and Zukiswa Sitho, 28,

Daubermann said: "The state did not bother to get the information. The state did not bother to investigate further to the detriment of [Omotoso and his co-accused]."

According to Daubermann, the state has in its possession the details of when and where the alleged offences took place but that they had refused to supply the defence with this.

"Had proper information been supplied, the defence could prepare a defence argument and prepare an alibi from the onset. The state cannot simply say on or about 2001 and 2010 an offence occurred where [Omotoso allegedly] raped a complainant."

From the onset of the trial, Omotoso's defence council had brought a number of applications to have the charges quashed, for further particulars to be furnished and for judge Mandela Makaula to recuse himself.

In March, Makaula made the decision to recuse himself, prompting Eastern Cape judge president Selby Mbenenge to make an order that the trial would start afresh before a new judge on July 30.

Yesterday, prosecutor Nceba Ntelwa told the court that the state had provided the defence with sufficient information and that there was no more particulars they could provide. "This is not the first time the defence is on the attack. [During the initial trial] we supplied [the defence] with the information they requested and they were happy.

"There was no application to compel the state to provide further particulars [at the time]. The specifics [the defence] required could not be given because we did not have it," Ntelwa said.

Ntelwa said the source of the information pertaining to the charges was obtained from the complainants in the matter and from that information the state formulated the charges set out. "At the heart and soul of charges is to inform the accused of the charges the state intends to bring.

"The type of information required [by the defence] does not advance the interests of justice as the Constitutional Court found," Ntelwa said.

Daubermann claimed it was sloppy work by the state in as much that they could have used cellphone records to place the alleged victims at certain places at specific times. These claims were not canvassed by Ntelwa in his arguments.

Meanwhile, outside court a large group of Omotoso supporters and those supporting the alleged victims gathered on opposite sides of the cordoned-off road in front of the courthouse in Bird Street.

After hearing arguments from both sides, new presiding judge Irma Schoeman said she would make a ruling as of today at 2pm.