Televangelist Pastor Timothy Omotoso’s trial facing a series of charges for human trafficking began on Monday and continues on Wednesday at the Port Elizabeth High Court.
The first witness, 22-year-old Cheryl Zondi, took the stand and explained how she was 13-years-old when she joined the Jesus Dominion International Church in 2009.
One of the girls who hung out with the televangelist gave her his number at his request. She was requested to text and call the pastor regularly.
The court heard how Zondi was 14-years old at the time of the assault and had never had a boyfriend.
At a national meeting, Omotoso offered her a place to stay. They drove to Umhlanga Rocks and found 30 girls at the house.
Zondi told the court details of inappropriate engagements between Pastor Omotoso and young women who are/were members of his church.
Rules of the house were that the girls had to shower three to four times a day and were not allowed to sleep more than five hours at a time.
She told the court how Omotoso sexually assaulted her. He called her to his room and said she must climb in his bed. Instructing her to remove her doek as it “made her look old” Omotoso then proceeded with the assault. Zondi was still a virgin then.
He recited Psalm 51 and told Zondi this was a covenant between them and God.
Zondi’s alleged sexual assault continued over weekends and other church gatherings across the country. Details of how the pastor ejaculated on her body and asked her to clean up emerged as Zondi testified.
She said the only time she would catch a break was when she was on her menstrual cycle.
The court has adjourned.
Omotoso appeared in Court A facing charges for racketeering, human trafficking, contravening the Sexual Offences Act, and conspiracy to aid and abet sexual assault.
The pastor appeared flamboyantly dressed to a courtroom filled with his supporters.
On Tuesday, he refused to plead to the charges of sexual assault and racketeering. Judge Mandela Makaula entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.
Omotoso and his co-accused face 63 charges and 34 alternative charges.
He is believed to have trafficked more than 30 girls and women from various branches of his church to a house in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, where he allegedly sexually exploited them.
Alleged accomplices Lusanda Solani, 36, of Durban, and Zukiswa Sitho, 28, of Port Elizabeth, allegedly recruited girls from all over the country and monitored their movements in the houses where they were being kept.
He was arrested by the Hawks on April 20 last year.
(Compiled by Gopolang Chawane)