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Omotoso trial back in court and presiding judge recuses himself

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The rape trial of Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso is back in court today, 15 March 2019, and Judge Mandela Makaula is expected to recuse himself.

The trial of Pastor Timothy Omotoso, alongside his co-accused Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho, is expected to resume in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Friday, 15 March 2019. Presiding Judge Mandela Makaula is expected to give reasons for his decision to recuse himself from the trial.

This after defence attorney Peter Daubermann relentlessly pursued the recusal of Makaula, accusing him of “being biased” and “protecting” Cheryl Zondi. This is not the first time Makaula was requested to recuse himself. In October 2018, Makaula dismissed an application for leave to appeal his earlier decision not to recuse himself.

This recusal comes after state advocate Nceba Ntelwa revealed during talks in chamber that several state witnesses were accommodated in a guest house owned by Makaula, through a company. This would then mean that Makaula presiding over this trial would be a conflict of interest.

Although the court has already heard from one witness, 23-year-old Cheryl Zondi, who gave an emotional testimonial during the 2018 trial, this recusal means that the trial would have to start afresh. A new judge would have to be appointed to the case and any previously heard evidence would have to be presented to the court again.

The 60-year-old pastor was arrested in April 2017 and has been denied bail on two occasions as he was deemed a flight risk. His co-accused, 28-year-old Zukiswa Sitho and 36-year-old Lusanda Sulani were arrested in November 2017 and were granted a bail of R2 000 each. The trio faces a total of 97 charges ranging from rape to human trafficking.

Abenathi Gqomo
[email protected]


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