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Cheryl Zondi to possibly relive her trauma on the stand

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After Judge Makhaula’s recusal on 15 March 2019, Cheryl Zondi, the first witness to take the stand at the Omotoso trial, might have to relive her trauma as the trial starts afresh.

South Africa first learned of the fearless Cheryl Zondi when the 23-year-old took to the stand during Pastor Timothy Omotoso’s rape trial in 2018. Zondi, who was the first and only witness to take the stand before the trial was halted, has learnt through media that she might have to relive her rape trauma all over again.

On Friday, 15 March 2019, Judge Mandela Makhaula recused himself as the presiding judge over the Omotoso trial. Makhaula said he is recusing himself from the trial due to possible “future perceptions” of bias because his wife owns the guesthouse in which some state witnesses stayed during the case trial last year.

According to Wits University law Professor James Grant, it is highly likely that Zondi will have to relive 2018’s trial process. The only way the new judge can get access to the evidence that was previously presented before court is through a repetition of Zondi’s testimony, as she is the only witness who had taken stand.

He also said Omotoso’s legal team are at liberty to question the legitimacy of the first testimonial and ask for a repetition. He said that, although the court understands that people give slightly varying versions of the same event as long as the changes are not material, this will not be easy on Zondi.

“It can’t be a good thing to have to put a victim through this again because there’s always that lingering danger of giving conflicting statements.”

Speaking to eNCA, Zondi said that the National Prosecuting Authority had not reached out to explain to her what a recusal meant and said she had learned through the media that she might be testifying again.

Abenathi Gqomo
[email protected]

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