PORT ELIZABETH, October 18 – Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso’s lawyer Peter Daubermann has spoken out after he was followed and harassed by angry protesters outside the Port Elizabeth High Court.
“It’s very unfortunate, unnecessary and uncalled for, other than that, I don’t really want to comment,” Daubermann told the African News Agency (ANA) on Thursday.
On Wednesday angry protesters, including among the #TotalShutDown movement, threw water and hurled comments at Daubermann, including calling him a “rubbish [for] defending a rapist”. They demanded that he drop the case and threatened that they knew where he lived.
Enraged protesters bayed for Daubermann’s blood as police escorted him to his car which was parked at the back of the court building.
The protesters were at court to support State witness Cheryl Zondi, 22, who had been under cross-examination for a third consecutive third day, with many accusing Daubermann of overstepping the bounds during his questioning of Zondi who has alleged that Omotoso sexually assaulted her when she was 14 years old.
Chaos erupted outside the court building shortly after the trial had adjourned for the day. Omotoso’s supporters, as well as protesters at court to support rape survivors, had to be separated by police after they attacked and hurled insults at one another.
Protesters outside the court to support Zondi also verbally attacked a woman they identified as Zoleka Ncapayi. They claimed she was a social worker and called her a “sell out for supporting a rapist”.
Daubermann has been widely criticised by the public for his line of questioning to Zondi during cross-examination. The Minister of Women in the Presidency and the portfolio committee overseeing her department have objected to what they call “brutal and inhumane” questioning, describing it as “secondary victimisation”.
The Commission of Gender Equality (CGE) said it would approach the judiciary and the General Council of the Bar to discuss “unfair” treatment of rape survivors in court. The CGE took the decision following a public outcry on questions Daubermann put to Zondi, including at one point asking her how many centimetres of the pastor’s penis was inserted into her vagina.
During the trial, Judge Mandela Makaula put a stop to Daubermann from asking what he called “unfair” questions.
The Nigerian pastor 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. His 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. The trial continues on Monday.
– African News Agency (ANA)