A Nigerian televangelist and pastor of Jesus Dominion International Church in South Africa, Timothy Omotoso has been accused of raping 22 years old Cheryl Zondi. an act he has allegedly been carrying out since the girl was 14 years old.
The trial, which is the first prominent rape case to be broadcast live in South Africa, raised a lot of questions about victims rights and whether justice would be served with television cameras in the courtroom.
Pastor Omotoso alongside two others are facing a 97 count charge of sexual assault, rape and human trafficking, which they all deny. The church which has a growing number of evangelical ministries in the country is known for promising miracles as well as its uniformed young female singers.
The trial which has shaken up the country saw a lot of people showing support for Zondi who was the first to testify against the accused. She told the court that Omotoso would quote Psalms and threaten God’s anger if she refuses. According to her, started raping her a year after she joined his church as a child. The public uproar soon started after Omotoso’s lawyer, Peter Daubermann, began to challenge Zondi’s account of what happened.
When she narrated how the pastor partially penetrated her at the age of 14, Daubermann asked her if she knew how many centimetres. This sparked chaos in the courtroom and Judge Mandela Makaula questioned the lawyer asking how she could possibly know. He went ahead to thank Zondi for her testimony while wishing her luck in her ongoing university exams.
Omotoso’s defence team asked the Judge to recuse himself from the case as he is biased and already believed Zondi’s version.
Many other ladies are expected to testify against Omotoso who was arrested last year as he tried to leave the country. He, however, enjoys the support of his congregation as he maintains his innocence. South Africa waits to hear his version of events when trials resume.