News24.com | Pastor Omotoso will hear next week if he gets bail
Port Elizabeth – Nigerian Pastor Timothy Omotoso will hear on September 8 whether his second bail application has been successful.
Omotoso’s new legal counsel, headed by Advocate Alwyn Rossouw SC, argued that their application was based on new facts, in that the charismatic Durban-based televangelist was in fact deemed a legal immigrant in the country, contrary to findings at the time of his first bail application.
The 59-year-old pastor is facing charges of human trafficking, sexual assault and the rape of young girls.
Rossouw presented the court with a letter from the Department of Home Affairs’ director general dated August 14 which stated that Omotoso’s current work permit was considered valid, although it officially expires today.
Rossouw also pointed out that Omotoso had been granted two High Court orders, the first on August 22 and the second on August 28, relating to his application for the renewal of his work permit.
He said for these orders to be granted, the onus was on Omotoso to prove that he had the legal standing to bring the application, and that this had been accepted by the High Court.
Omotoso is a good man
Rossouw also presented the court with a character reference, which detailed how the pastor was actively involved in communities around the country through his televangelist work and as head of the Timothy Omotoso Global Outreach programme.
Rossouw listed numerous initiatives in Durban, Port Elizabeth and elsewhere, including feeding schemes, orphanages and old age homes where Omotoso had been involved in.
He also pointed out that the pastor had been a mentor for recovering drug addicts, prostitutes and armed robbers, and had been involved in many musical initiatives.
Rossouw said the work done by Omotoso in these initiatives had been severely impacted by his client’s detention.
“The poor and destitute are suffering. It is in the interest of justice to release him so that these people do not have to suffer,” Rossouw said.
Church prepared to pay bail
Rossouw also handed up audited financial statements relating to Omotoso’s church and told the court that his congregants had been able to put R100 000 together for Omotoso’s bail.
“They need that money, if he is released on bail, they will make sure that he does not leave,” he said.
State prosecutor, Nceba Ntelwa, argued that there were no new facts before the court.
Ntelwa, again called Home Affairs immigration officer Ivan Classen who had testified to the status of Omotoso as an illegal immigrant during his first bail application.
Classen said that the letter resented by Rossouw was identical to one on record presented by himself in the first application, except for the date and the fact that it had been addressed to Omotoso’s attorneys, as opposed to himself.
“The letter states that the work permit is valid, but the final sentence states that, should any negative information come to light, the verification shall be considered null and void,” he said.
Classen went on to say that even though Omotoso was within his rights to apply for an extension of his work permit, this did not mean that the department would grant it to him.
Classen told the court he had been conducting an investigation into Omotoso’s legal status, and had opened a case against him last week Friday. These charges were added yesterday.
Under cross-examination, Classen admitted that while there were questions around the work visa issued in 2000, there were no facts linking Omotoso to any wrongdoing.
Strong police presence
The Magistrate’s Court was again under lock down, with a strong police presence from the tactical response unit and public order policing, as hundreds of the pastor’s supporters gathered outside in support.
Members of the ANC Women’s League also gathered outside to protest against Omotoso and call for his bail to be denied.
At least six armed police officers were inside the courtroom, wearing tactical gear and armed with rifles, while access to court was strictly monitored.
When Omotoso’s wife, accompanied by her personal entourage and security, left the court she was surrounded by ANC members, who chanted “no bail, no bail”.
She was quickly escorted to an awaiting vehicle, as Omotoso supporters rushed up and surrounded the vehicle. Police members also intervened to separate the two groups.
Omotoso will appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court again on September 8 for judgment in his bail application.