Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso and co-accused Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho at the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday. Photo: Raahil Sain / African News Agency (ANA)

Port Elizabeth - The Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday dismissed an application for leave to appeal its earlier decision allowing the case against Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso to be heard in Port Elizabeth.

This after Judge Irma Schoeman made an earlier ruling that the Port Elizabeth High Court had the jurisdiction to hear all 97 charges faced by Omotoso and his co-accused Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho.

The 60-year-old televangelist allegedly trafficked more than 30 girls and women, who were from various branches of his Jesus Dominion Church (JDI), to a house in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, where he allegedly sexually exploited them.

Sulani and Sitho, are accused of recruiting girls from all over the country for purposes of sexual exploitation. 

Defence attorney Peter Daubermann had previously raised concerns about the validity of an authorisation certificate signed by then National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams.

Daubermann claimed that the court did not have the jurisdiction to hear the bulk of the charges, specifically alleged offences which took place in cities outside of Port Elizabeth and abroad.

The trio pleaded not guilty to seven charges of rape and sexual assault which allegedly occurred in Port Elizabeth, however, they entered a plea of no jurisdiction in respect of all the other charges. 

In her judgment on Wednesday, Schoeman said that the NDPP directive and indictment were in line with the Criminal Procedure Act. She said the directive’s reference to the indictment was sufficient.

Schoeman referred to the previous trial saying it was clear that the accused had knowledge of the charges they faced. She said that they also had knowledge of the NDPP centralising the charges.

Schoeman highlighted that Daubermann, at the time, signed a letter acknowledging the charges and centralisation of the case - something he did not object to at the time. 

The trio had previously conceded that the directive was valid.

Schoeman dismissed the application for leave to appeal the decision in the Supreme Court of Appeal, citing that the application had no reasonable prospects of success. 

Daubermann indicated that he would now petition the Supreme Court of Appeal. He has 30 days to lodge the documentation. 

The trial started afresh two weeks ago, after the original presiding judge, Port Elizabeth High Court Judge Mandela Makaula, recused himself.

The case was postponed to October 7. 

African News Agency/ANA