19 March 2019

South Africa: Omotoso Trial - Cheryl Zondi Prepared to Testify Afresh Until 'Justice' Is Served

Photo: SABC/YouTube
Video screenshot of Cheryl Zondi testifying at the trial of Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotioso (file photo).

Cheryl Zondi says she is prepared to take the stand again to testify against her alleged abuser, Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso, until justice is served.

She was commenting after Judge Mandela Makaula revealed on Friday that he would be recusing himself from the highly-publicised trial. The recusal means that the trial would have to start afresh before a new judge.

"I don't care how many times I have to tell the truth or go through the same process over and over again. This is about justice.

"I have confidence in the truth. I know my story. I know what has happened and I strongly believe that the truth will prevail," Zondi told the media at a briefing in Milpark, Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Omotoso's lawyer, Peter Daubermann, applied for the judge's recusal claiming that the judge was biased towards Zondi.

Allegations also emerged that Judge Makaula allegedly had an interest in a guesthouse where witnesses were accommodated, but Zondi said she had no knowledge of this.

"The only place I saw the judge was in the courtroom.

"I stayed in a guesthouse arranged by the State. I did not know who it belonged to or anything of that sort," she said.

The 23-year-old caught South Africans' attention when she was the first witness to take the stand in the trial.

Omotoso, 60, and his co-accused Zukiswa Sitho, 28, and Lusanda Sulani, 36, face 97 charges, including rape and human trafficking.

Zondi commented on her experience when she testified: "The plan was that I go to Port Elizabeth, say my piece and move on with my life, but I was retraumatised by a lawyer asking me about centimetres and making me feel as if I was the one on trial."

During cross-examination, Daubermann asked her how many centimetres Omotoso had pushed his penis into her vagina.

Makaula intervened and this led to a heated exchange.

During the trial, Daubermann implied that Zondi was a willing participant and that she had the option of leaving or reporting what happened to her at the time.

Zondi, who was allegedly raped from the age of 14, told Daubermann several times that she was a child when the incidents took place.

"I expect the process to be worse next time, but if I have to go through secondary victimisation to get justice, then so be it," she said.

The trial is to resume on July 30, 2019, when Judge President Selby Mbenenge is expected to preside.

Source: News24

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