A Nigerian pastor Tim Omotoso charged with human trafficking, sexual assault and the rape of young girls, now has an additional charge to face for allegedly being in South Africa illegally.
The pastor was back in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday where he was meant to apply for bail on new facts. However, proceedings in Court 22 were cut short due to an urgent application brought before the Port Elizabeth High Court to have the Omotoso’s work visa renewed.
Omotoso now has new legal representation from the firm Mcloughlin Porter in Vereeniging, who are conducting his defence in the criminal case against him.
Hundreds of his supporters gathered outside court, holding placards, saying ‘Welcome home Daddy.’ The Omotoso’s wife also attending court proceedings on Tuesday, flanked by her bodyguard.
By Tuesday afternoon, Omotoso was brought before Court 27 in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court and the state officially added a charge relating to him being in the country illegally.
“When he first applied for bail, the immigration official said that Omotoso could have been arrested if they were to meet him on the streets, which meant he was here illegally. We made it a point to charge him and that had to be done quickly so the charge could be added to the [other] 22 charges,” said National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson, Tsepo Ndwalaza.
During Omotoso’s first bail application in May, it emerged that he had been living in the country “illegally” after it was discovered that at least one of his permits was “issued fraudulently,” an immigration officer testified at the time.
Senior immigration officer Ivan Klaasen said that he had discovered that Omotoso had six passports, and not four, as the court was previously told. During May 2000, a request for eight permits, including a temporary residence permit, was made – all of which were issued the same day, Klaasen said at the time. A permit issued by a former home affairs official in Port Elizabeth was fraudulent, making the televangelist eligible for deportation.
“When a person is issued with a fraudulent permit, that person becomes illegal and all permits issued thereafter become null and void,” said Klaasen.
Meanwhile, at the Port Elizabeth High Court, it was ordered by agreement that the police take all the necessary steps to transport the televangelist to the Department of Home Affairs’ Visa Verification Centre so that he could lodge an application for the extension of his general work visa.
Omotoso’s lawyers, conducting the civil case, brought the application because his general work visa would expire by Wednesday. Omotoso’s new lawyer, Advocate Alwyn Rossouw SC, had earlier indicated that if Omotoso’s work visa was not renewed, he would become an illegal immigrant in the country.
Late on Tuesday afternoon Omotoso was transported by police to the Visa Verification Centre to get his visa business in order.
Omotoso, who is based in Durban, is alleged to have trafficked more than 30 girls and women from various branches of his church countrywide. He allegedly took them to a house in Umhlanga, in KwaZulu-Natal, where he sexually exploited them.
According to the testimony before the court, senior members of the church would recruit “vulnerable” girls between ages of 13 and 15 and lure them into performing sexual acts with Omotoso.
Following a foiled arrest in Bloemfontein on Easter weekend, the televangelist was arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime investigation (Hawks) on April 20 at the Port Elizabeth airport. He has been in custody ever since.
By way of affidavit, Omotoso has vehemently denied allegations of sex with young girls. The bail application on new facts was postponed until Wednesday.