Omotoso has 63 charges against him including racketeering, rape, sexual assault and human trafficking. He has refused to plead to all the charges. (Getty Images)
Judge Mandela Makaula recused himself from the rape trial of televangelist Timothy Omotoso on Wednesday.
This follows an investigation by the SABC which suggests Makaula had a financial interest in the guest house used to accommodate state witnesses.
Omotoso’s defence attorney Peter Daubermann — who has made several attempts to have Makaula recuse himself from the case — met with the judge in his chambers on Wednesday evening, where Makaula agreed to step down from presiding over the trial, News 24 reported.
Makaula is expected to provide his reasons for recusing himself on March 15 and the trial — which was postponed to April — will be brought forward.
Daubermann has twice called for the judge’s recusal, alleging that Makaula’s comments seemed to give the first witness, Cheryl Zondi, “special treatment”.
Daubermann said he feared his client would not receive a fair trial, saying the judge had made up his mind about the outcome of the trial before even hearing the pastor’s side of the story.
The Omotoso trial — which began in 2018 — was postponed pending the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) where Omotoso had applied to have the judge presiding over his case recuse himself.
The SCA dismissed Omotoso’s application in December. It also dismissed 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.
Over the past several months, he has been appearing in court alongside two co-accused, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho.
He is accused of trafficking more than 30 girls and women from the three branches of his church, Jesus Dominion International, to a house in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, where he allegedly sexually abused them.