Timothy Omotoso and his co-accused Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho. Picture: Raahil Sain/ANA

Port Elizabeth - The human trafficking trial against Timothy Omotoso hit another snag in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Friday after objections were raised over the court’s jurisdiction in hearing the bulk of charges against the Nigerian pastor. 

Defence attorney Peter Daubermann argued that the Port Elizabeth High Court only had the jurisdiction to hear seven rape and sexual assault charges which allegedly occurred in Port Elizabeth. 

He argued in respect of the other 63 charges which allegedly occurred in Durban, Richards Bay and Bloemfontein -- the Port Elizabeth High Court did not have jurisdiction to try Omotoso and his co-accused Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho.

State prosecutor Nceba Ntelwa said that he had applied to the former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shaun Abrahams for the centralisation of the charges. 

However, Daubermann objected to the certificate of authorisation signed by Abrahams, stating that the document did not specify or state the description of charges. He also argued that the certificate referred to an indictment but it did not refer to which indictment. 

When the trial started afresh before Schoeman, a new indictment was lodged earlier in July. Daubermann argued that the certificate of authorisation was signed in April last year and did not make reference to the new indictment. 

He maintained that the court did not have jurisdiction over the charges which allegedly occurred in Bloemfontein, Durban and Richards Bay. 

Schoeman also raised concerns asking the State: “How do I know this is the same indictment, how do I know the counts are the same?” 

Omotoso faces 63 main charges, including human trafficking, rape and sexual assault. 

Omotoso’s co-accused, Sulani and Sitho, are accused of recruiting girls from all over the country for purposes of sexual exploitation. 

The case was postponed until Monday for the State to provide a new certificate of jurisdiction. 

African News Agency (ANA)