Now Cheryl Zondi faces death threats following harrowing testimony
Cheryl Zondi, the 22-year-old student who opted to testify in open court against the “man of God” she accuses of repeatedly raping her, received threatening calls in the weeks leading up to the trial.
Security measures have been beefed up to ensure Zondi’s safety after three days of harrowing testimony in the Port Elizabeth high court against her alleged rapist, pastor Timothy Omotoso, 60, and his co-accused, Lusanda Sulani‚ 36‚ and Zukiswa Sitho‚ 28. Together they face 97 charges ranging from sexual assault to rape and human trafficking.
“She was threatened that God will kill her because she goes against a man of God, and things along those lines. We realise that the support for the accused is very strong,” said Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, chair of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural‚ Religious and Linguistic Communities, which has been supporting Zondi.
The University of Johannesburg second-year marketing student, who returned to Johannesburg on Thursday, has also been offered the option to reschedule her tests and exams.
Zondi has become one of the first rape accusers to have her testimony broadcast live and to face invasive cross-examination in the full glare of the media spotlight.
She told the court she was just 13 years old when she joined a branch of Omotoso’s Jesus Dominion International church in Secunda, Mpumalanga.
Zondi spent three gruelling days on the stand facing deeply intimate questions.
She had to respond in graphic detail to defence lawyer Peter Daubermann. He asked Zondi repeatedly by how many centimetres Omotoso had penetrated her after she said he had only partially penetrated her.
Omotoso’s trial continues tomorrow with another of his victims taking the stand.
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