Port Elizabeth - A Nigerian pastor who allegedly sexually exploited more than 30 girls played hide-and-seek with police as he arrived at the Port Elizabeth Airport on Thursday where he was to be arrested by the Hawks.
Amidst high drama, the pastor from the Jesus Dominian International Church based in Durban was arrested at the Port Elizabeth Airport on Thursday afternoon on charges of human trafficking.
The controversial pastor also runs churches in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and in the United Kingdom.
According to an eyewitness, who did not want to be named, police initially ran through arrivals doors looking for the suspect but could not find him. The source told African News Agency (ANA) police then searched the toilets and found him.
The suspect was handcuffed out of the bathroom by police officers. The pastor is being represented by well-known Port Elizabeth attorney Alwyn Griebenow, who was also at the airport.
Well-known Port Elizabeth attorney Terry Price was also present at the airport. The pastor who was dressed in flashy sunglasses and a brightly coloured checked blazer later arrived at the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) offices flanked by police officials.
Hawks Spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Netshiunda, confirmed police went looking for the suspect at the airport after their procedure did not go as planned. It is understood the suspect was meant to to hand himself over to the Hawks, but that scenario did not happen as anticipated.
"We got information that his flight was delayed but we could not believe that at face value. We went to the airport ourselves only to find out the flight was on schedule," said Netshiunda.
Netshiunda also confirmed that police found the pastor in a toilet. He confirmed that the suspect was charged with human trafficking and said that additional charges might be added.
Meanwhile, a group of women gathered outside the Hawks offices on Friday in support of victims they say had been roped in by "pimps" belonging to the pastors church.
Pamella Mabini said they were supporting more than 30 women who were "raped" and "sexually exploited" by the pastor.
"On our WhatsApp group there are more than 70 women, some are victims and some women are supporting these victims. We try to encourage people to come forward but they get threatened," she said.
Mabini claimed that some girls were "raped" and "molested" as far back as from 2002. "Some of them are scared to come out because they are getting threatened by the members of that church," she said.
The suspect is expected to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate's Court on Friday.
African News Agency