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Council of Churches distances itself from Timothy Omotoso and slams defence counsel

31 October 2018 - 16:18 By Lwandile Bhengu
Pastor Timothy Omotoso in the Port Elizabeth High Court on October 22 2018.
Pastor Timothy Omotoso in the Port Elizabeth High Court on October 22 2018.
Image: Eugene Coetzee/The Herald

The SA Council of Churches has slammed the treatment of Cheryl Zondi during her testimony in the Timothy Omotoso trial.

During Zondi's harrowing three-day testimony in the Port Elizabeth High Court‚ Judge Mandela Makaula had to reprimand Omotoso’s legal counsel‚ Peter Daubermann‚ on several occasions because of the nature of questions he put to Zondi‚ 22.

"The manner in which the victim‚ young and courageous Cheryl Zondi‚ was traumatised during a cross-examination that was reminiscent of the apartheid security branch interrogation‚ left many aghast and with serious questions about the conduct of the judicial system‚" said Bishop Malusi Mpumelwa‚ general secretary of the South African Council of Churches.

At one stage Makaula stopped Daubermann from questioning Zondi about how far Omotoso had penetrated her when he raped her when she 14.

“Cheryl Zondi's heroism is outstandingly remarkable and very few would have survived that frightful Omotoso defence.”

Mpumelwa's statement was read out during the KwaZulu-Natal Church leaders meeting on Thursday.

During the meeting‚ various church leaders and stakeholders discussed the issue of sexual assault in the church.

"This is not a new issue since we were all children in the church when these issues were being swept under the carpet. We need to stand our ground and start protecting ourselves from each other‚" said Pastor Nompumelelo Msimang.

The council of churches also distanced itself from Omotoso‚ 60‚ who together with his co-accused‚ Lusanda Sulani‚ 36‚ and Zukiswa Sitho‚ 28‚ are facing 97 charges ranging from sexual assault to rape and human trafficking.

“The SA Council of Churches condemns outright any of the despicable practices for which Mr Omotoso has been indicated (sic)”.

The council also said that it was looking into establishing safe spaces for victims of sexual assault.