PORT ELIZABETH, October 24 – Eastern Cape Transport Safety and Liaison MEC, Weziwe Tikana and Health MEC Helen Sauls-August together with several church leaders and civil society held a march against gender-based violence in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday.
Around 300 people came to support survivors of sex crimes, a day before rape accused Timothy Omotoso’s case was set to resume in the Port Elizabeth High Court.
Representatives from the Sarah Baartman and Buffalo City Municipality were also in attendance.
Sauls-August handed over a memorandum to the court manager and demanded that all churches in the country be regulated.
Other demands in the memorandum, addressed to President Cyril Ramaphosa, including the immediate closure of all churches which exploit vulnerable congregants including the deportation of any expatriate church leader whose church had been shut down due to exploitative practices.
The protesters also called for the immediate establishment of a task team to implement a national programme for the purposes of educating society to be vigilant in church-based exploitation.
Sauls-August said the protest was not exclusively to speak out against Omotoso but rather for all survivors of gender-based violence.
“What Cheryl [Zondi] is representing is the injustice that women and children go through when they become victims of rape and sexual abuse on a daily basis,” she said.
Meanwhile, church leader Mpumelelo Qwabaza said it was not the business of the church to take advantage of the poor and weak.
Qwabaza said the role of the church was to create harmony, peace and stability within society.
He also called for all churches in the country to be regulated.
Omotoso faces 63 main charges and 34 alternative counts which include human trafficking, rape, sexual assault, racketeering and conspiracy in aiding another person to commit sexual assault.
The Nigerian pastor’s two alleged henchwomen, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho are accused of recruiting girls from all over the country for purposes of sexual exploitation.
The 58-year-old televangelist allegedly trafficked more than 30 girls and women who were from various branches of his church to a house in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, where he allegedly sexually exploited them.
On Thursday an application for leave to appeal is expected to be argued after Judge Mandela Makaula refused to recuse himself from the case.
-African News Agency (ANA)