PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa – he family of human trafficking and rape accused Reverend Timothy Omotoso, whose third bail bid was denied by the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday, said injustices of the system and biased courts were robbing an innocent man of his freedom.
Omotoso, 62, appeared before Judge Phillip Zilwa, who dismissed his case citing lack of substantial or exceptional circumstances. He said there were no new facts presented by the defence outside of those previously presented on September 9 and November 30, 2017 when bail was denied.
The televangelist and leader of the Jesus Dominion International Church with branches worldwide, was arrested by the Hawks at Port Elizabeth International Airport in April 2017 after fleeing Durban where he was sought by police.
Together with his co-accused Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho, currently out on bail, he faces a total of 48 charges, including sexual assault, five charges relating to the contravention of the Immigration Act, rape and human trafficking.
Omotoso family spokesperson Derrick Mosoana criticised the court, saying new evidence which should have warranted bail was presented.
“It is evident to us now that South Africa has become an animal farm where some animals are more equal than others because a former high ranking office bearer who faces charges of raping a minor was released on R20 000 bail,” he said.
“We are not justifying rape, however if people are charged with the same violation, why can’t the state treat them as equal. We have seen Prophet Bushiri being granted bail though there was evidence that he posed a flight risk.”
Mosoana said had the courts been fair, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, who was released on R200 000 bail on Wednesday, has been accused of fraud and money laundering worth R102 million, would have been denied bail but political connections guaranteed his freedom.
He said as a family they had agreed to appeal the judgment with hopes that the Supreme Court of Appeal will arrive at a “sober” decision of granting bail.
Mosoana said all national branches were still functional and the four in the province were going strong.
“We also have vast land in Ballito and are expanding. KZN is doing particularly well and we have buses that have been freely donated to the ministry to transport our members to our churches,” he said.
“Emotionally we are not well, but spiritually we are keeping the faith and will continue in prayer believing that the God of Reverend Tim Omotoso will grant us the opportunity to have our father back on the pulpit.”
Mosoana shared that Omotoso was doing well in prison and that before the Covid-19 pandemic, the church had teams that were responsible for visiting the pastor twice a week as the church was still responsible for his meals.
He said church members often wrote letters to the man of God for prayer requests and to share their experiences and testimonies.
“We make sure that he is well taken care of and also to assist in his laundry. Where possible the pastor calls to greet members of the church, to give us a word of encouragement using the prison public telephones.”
He urged the country to stand with the family and the church as they pray for Omotoso’s immediate release from prison.
“It has been three years and this proves that they have no case. We are confident that the staged arrest will come to an end and we will have our father back in the ministry.”
Anelisa Ngcakani of the National Prosecuting Authority said it believed that it had a strong case.
The trial is expected to resume on November 10.