The defence in the human trafficking trial of Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso argued that the televangelist and his alleged henchwomen were highly prejudiced because they were unable to raise an alibi with only vague charges against them, the Port Elizabeth High Court heard on Wednesday.
Defence attorney Peter Daubermann brought an application to compel the state to furnish further particulars pertaining to the charge sheet. Daubermann is seeking details like times, dates and places of the alleged offences.
“As the charges stand it is impossible for the accused to raise an alibi because they simply don’t know the dates of an alleged offence. They will be prejudiced if the court does not order further particulars,” Daubermann argued.
Daubermann said that when he cross-examined state witness Cheryl Zondi in the initial trial, before the judge recused himself and it started afresh, he was able to get her to commit to certain time periods. He used an example, that Zondi had claimed Omotoso had raped and sexually abused her at a house in Durban for a certain time period.
However, Daubermann argued that he produced air tickets to the court indicating that Omotoso was in America during the time Zondi alleged he was with her at the house.
Zondi then conceded that Omotoso was not at the house during the time she initially alleged.
“If I was provided the dates beforehand I could have prepared an alibi beforehand. Now I have to get dates from witnesses,” said Daubermann.
He argued that Omotoso and the two women were entitled to the state providing approximate dates for the alleged offences. He said the lack of detail in the charge sheet would amount to an unfair trial.
Daubermann said the state simply refused to provide the information and gave no reasons.
But state prosecutor Nceba Ntelwa said the defence was once again on the attack.
Ntelwa said the state provided the defence with further details at the previous trial and at the time the defence was “happy”.
“There was no application to compel. We provided the specifics they were looking for and the information we didn’t have the defence accepted,” said Ntelwa.
Ntelwa argued that from the information provided the defence was able to raise a defence adding that the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed an application to have the charges against Omotoso, Lusanda Sulani, and Zukiswa Sitho quashed.
Congregants once again sang outside the Port Elizabeth High Court. Various political parties and activists also attended proceedings in a packed courtroom.
The 58-year-old televangelist allegedly trafficked more than 30 girls and women who were from various branches of his church to a house in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, where he allegedly sexually exploited them.
Omotoso was arrested on April 20, 2017, by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation at the Port Elizabeth Airport. He has been denied bail on two occasions as he was deemed a flight risk. The women were arrested in November 2017 and are out on bail of R2,000.
The trial continues.
-African News Agency