Wed, 26 Feb 2020

After a litany of appeals to higher courts, the last being the Constitutional Court, the trial of televangelist Timothy Omotoso and his two co-accused will finally get under way in February.

Omotoso, Zukiswa Sitho and Lusanda Sulani face 97 charges, including rape, human trafficking and racketeering, for allegedly targeting and recruiting young girls for sexual exploitation.

It is alleged that the girls were moved from their homes to two mission houses in KwaZulu-Natal, where they were made to engage in sexual acts with Omotoso.

READ | Rape-accused pastor Timothy Omotoso to spend third Christmas behind bars pending judgment

Sulani and Sitho allegedly played the roles of recruiters and house managers.

In the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday, defence lawyer Peter Daubermann told Judge Irma Schoeman that he was available for the matter from February 24 to March 16.

"Between March 16 and 26, I will not be available for this matter," he said.

Prosecutor Nceba Ntelwa said the court's first term ended on March 27.

"On the 24th February we will start with the trial, where the first witness will take the stand," said Ntelwa.

What this means, is that the trial will run for the first two weeks from the first day it is scheduled to start, before taking a break until April 14.

Omotoso and his co-accused have made various attempts to avoid standing trial.

In the latest attempt, they applied to have charges separated and heard in different provinces, where the incidents allegedly took place.

Daubermann argued that the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth did not have the jurisdiction to hear all the charges.

Schoeman dismissed their application, but the defence took the matter to the Supreme Court of Appeal and later, to the Constitutional Court.

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