Supporters of controversial Durban-based Nigerian pastor Tim Omotoso will march in solidarity with him. File picture

Supporters of controversial Durban-based Nigerian pastor Tim Omotoso will march in solidarity with their alleged sex pest “father in the Lord” this week in protest of his “illegal arrest” based on “trumped up” charges.

He was arrested by the Hawks in April, and faces 22 charges related to the sexual exploitation and human trafficking of more than 30 girls and women.  

Omotoso, 58, is the founder of Jesus Dominion International (JDI)  churches. 

A statement released on a JDI letterhead on Sunday, claimed Omotoso was not read his rights nor was there a warrant when he was arrested at the Port Elizabeth airport upon arrival from Durban. 

“He has a constitutional right to the presumption of innocence, as well as a fair and speedy trial, according to SA law. Furthermore, he has the right to be freed on bail from detention if the interest of justice permits, and subject to reasonable conditions,” read the statement.

Read more here: Alleged sex pest pastor ‘not on the run’

Speaking to The Mercury on Wednesday, JDI spokesman Pastor Sanele Myeni said they were expecting about 1 000 people to march from King Dinuzulu Park on Friday, calling for Omotoso to be treated justly. 

“He needs to be given a fair trial and we are unhappy with the way he was arrested. We understand that the charges against him are serious but the state – in defence of the people who have come forward – should not trump the rights of our father in the Lord,” said Myeni. 

He said they were anxious for the allegations to be tested in a court of law as they were confident that Omotoso would emerge victorious. 

“As South African members of JDI we feel that these allegations are politically motivated and have a potential to create xenophobic sentiments and violence,” he warned. 

Myeni said he visited Omotoso at the St Albans Correctional Facility over the weekend. 

“Our father in the Lord is doing very well, he is strong and taking care of himself.”

Read more here: Pastor's words haunt sexually abused victim

Omotoso is due back in court later this month, for a second bail application after his initial one was denied. 

This too was unjust said Myeni. 

“The reasons given for not giving him bail is not acceptable. How can they say he is a flight risk when he has been in this country for more than 16 years and has a ministry he established with churches all over the country?” 

Myeni also rubbished that Omotoso was in the country illegally.

“The church is very disappointed and embarrassed by the conduct of the Hawks (and) NPA. We demand that the NPA stop the delays and abuse of the criminal justice system, and also that Tim Omotoso has a right to be released on bail,” said Myeni. 

Omotoso will make a second attempt at getting released on bail on August 29 at the Port Elizabeth Magistrates Court.

The Mercury