SCA dismisses Omotoso’s bid to have judge recused
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has dismissed televangelist Timothy Omotoso’s application to compel the judge presiding over his rape trial to recuse himself.
Peter Daubermann — Omotoso’s lawyer — applied in October for Judge Mandela Makaula to recuse himself from the trial, saying that his client has no chance of a fair trial. Dauberman accused Makaula of having already made up his mind about the outcome of the trial and being biased towards Cheryl Zondi, the first witness.
The SCA also rejected Omotoso’s application to have the charges against him dismissed.
Omotoso has 63 charges against him including racketeering, rape, sexual assault and human trafficking. He has refused to plead to all the charges.
Omotoso is accused of trafficking more than 30 girls and women from branches of his church to a house in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, where he allegedly sexually abused them.
In her testimony, Zondi said Omotoso groomed and sexually abused her as a teenager.
At the time, Makaula wished her well for her upcoming exams and told Zondi to focus on that and not worry about the trial. Omotoso and his counsel were concerned by these comments, pointing to them as evidence of Makaula’s “overtly sympathetic” attitude towards Zondi.
In an affidavit submitted by Dauberman, he criticised Makaula saying he has “allowed” his “humanity” to get the better of him. Dauberman further accused Makaula of already believing Zondi’s version of events which is why the trial cannot continue with the judge at the helm.
“A judge cannot display even the slightest display of prejudice,” Daubermann said.
Makaula subsequently dismissed the application requesting him to recuse himself, saying Omotoso’s counsel did not provide him with compelling reasons why he should not preside over the trial.
“It is ridiculous in the extreme to assume that I had accepted Miss Zondi’s version of events before the accused has testified,” Makaula said.
Daubermann then requested that the trial be postponed so they can approach the SCA and appeal Makaula’s decision.
The trial has been postponed and will resume on February 4 2019.
Update: Omotoso’s legal team says it is preparing to approach the Constitutional Court.
“We are proceeding with an application to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal,” Daubermann told News24 on Tuesday.