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Rape-accused televangelist Timothy Omotoso may get charges reduced

There might be some long-awaited relief for Nigerian televangelist, Pastor Timothy Omotoso, after the state’s Joel Cesar told South Africa’s Gqeberha Magistrates Court that they were prepared to drop almost half of the rape and human trafficking charges leveled against him.

Omotoso, who has been behind bars for almost six years, is facing 97 counts (63 main charges and 34 alternative charges) together with his alleged accomplices, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sithole, both of who are out on bail.

On Monday, Cesar said the state would not oppose the dropping of the 45 charges faced by the leader of the Jesus Dominion International (JDI) Church and his co-accused.

This was after Omotoso’s Peter Daubermann brought an application in terms of section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act to have Omotoso and his co-accused discharged on all the charges.

In that application, he alleged that former prosecutor, advocate Nceba Ntelwa, and the investigating officer had spoken to witnesses while under cross-examination. However, he is still expected to answer to all the other remaining charges.

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“The conduct of the prosecutors, in particular advocate Ntelwa, has fallen short of expected principles of fairness in court that are expected from a prosecutor,” said Daubermann.

Omotoso’s legal representative said Ntelwa had even created a WhatsApp group to communicate with the witnesses.

“Ntelwa was part of the prosecution team. He led the evidence of nine of the witnesses. He also created a WhatsApp group chat for witnesses and communicated with them. I perceived it to be very unethical and informed him about this.”

It is alleged that Omotoso, 63, who was addressed as “the man of God”, was the leader of the JDI church, and his co-accused were his assistants.

JDI had major branches in South Africa, Nigeria and Israel, with Durban being its headquarters in the country.

Judgement on the latest application is expected to be delivered on 31 October.