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The arrest of the controversial pastor of the Jesus Dominion International Church in Durban was unnecessarily dramatic and unlawful, his lawyer said yesterday.

The pastor, who was implicated in human trafficking and sex crimes allegations by Special Assignment on Sunday, was nabbed by the Hawks as he landed in Port Elizabeth on a flight from Durban yesterday.

The arrest angered his lawyer Bongani Cele, who felt the Hawks had overstepped the mark.

The Hawks decided to arrest him, as they were getting jittery about his decision to hand himself over to the police.

According to an eyewitness, who did not want to be named, police initially ran through arrivals doors looking for the pastor, but could not find him. The source said police then searched the toilets and found him.

He was handcuffed and taken out of the bathroom. Cele said he was angered by the manner of the arrest.

“As we landed at the airport, they were there with guns. It was like they were pursuing Osama bin Laden. They took him, as his lawyers we still do not know where they are keeping him.

“We will move with an application for his immediate release. The reason we came to Port Elizabeth was to meet with the investigating officer.

“If they had arrested him in Durban airport, maybe they could have justified in thinking he was fleeing. But we were coming to them. How do you arrest someone who is coming to you?”

Cele said it was not clear what charges his client would face. “The only thing I can think off is the allegations of human trafficking. That is the only thing, nothing else.”

Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Netshiunda, of the Hawks, said they had been in negotiations with the pastor’s lawyers and there was an agreement that he would hand himself over to the police.

“They were delaying and we went to the airport and we found them waiting for him there. He was coming in from a flight from Durban. We did not know where they would take him and we decided to arrest him instead.”

Netshiunda said the pastor would be charged with human trafficking and will appear in court today.

Social Development MEC Weziwe Thusi welcomed the arrest. “I am shocked that a man of the cloth stands accused of such horrible crimes. It is disturbing to note that this alleged sex pest used the church as his hunting ground.

“This calls for members of the church and other structures in society to be more vigilant. I would like to commend the girls for the courage to speak up.

“By speaking out they have reclaimed their power and hopefully they can begin to heal now that the wheels of justice are turning in their favour.”

Additional reporting by ANA