Port Elizabeth - “You were prepared to let him rape you?” was the question Timothy Omotoso’s lawyer put to 22-year-old witness Cheryl Zondi which angered Judge Mandela Makaula in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday.
Zondi was under cross-examination in the trial involving Omotoso and his two alleged accomplices, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho.
Defence attorney Peter Daubermann questioned Zondi on the alleged sexual abuse which took place at Omotoso’s house in Umhlanga in Durban.
Zondi who stood her ground under the circumstances broke down several times but continued to answer graphic questions.
After explicitly detailing sexual abuse by the hands of a man likened to God, Daubermann wanted to know why Zondi, at the age of 14, decided to leave her home in Secunda to travel for the second time to a national meeting at the Jesus Dominion International (JDI) church in Durban.
“You knew that you were exposing yourself to further possible sexual assault, you knew he might rape you,” Daubermann said.
Zondi said she accepted the risk because if she did not attend she believed she would die.
Daubermann asked: “You were prepared to let him rape you?”
At this point, Makaula was visibly upset, and interjected for the third time on Daubermann’s line of questioning.
“How can you be prepared to be raped?” She is saying she was in between a rock and a hard place,” said Makaula.
Daubermann then accused Makaula of “protecting” Zondi and went as far as saying that the judge was acting “improperly”.
“What I am saying is that this question is wrong and unfair. If you take it that I’m protecting her then so be it,” said Makaula.
Makaula warned Daubermann not to argue with the court adding that he had made a ruling that such a question would not be allowed.
Daubermann indicated he would take it further at a later stage.
After detailing a first experience at the house where she was sexually assaulted in the Omotoso’s bedroom, Zondi conceded that she went back to Durban with the knowledge that she might be raped.
She said she went to a night vigil and then to Omotoso’s house in Umhlanga.
Zondi told the court how she was summoned to his bedroom and this time he demanded she do “something new”. She said he demanded that she use her hands and her mouth.
In tears, she told the court that she performed oral sex on Omotoso.
After Omotoso climaxed, Zondi said that he again prayed that they be forgiven.
Several pictures were aired in court showing girls hovered around Omotoso at his feet.
Commenting on the pictures, Zondi said Omotoso would frequently flaunt erections in the lounge area of the house and the girls were expected to show excitement.
Daubermann put it to her she was part of the “jollification” that took place to which Zondi replied: “That’s a very broad description but sure.”
The 58-year-old televangelist faces 63 charges including rape and racketeering.
He allegedly trafficked more than 30 girls and women who were from various branches of his church to a house in Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal, where he allegedly sexually exploited them.
Sulani and Sitho allegedly recruited girls all over the country and monitored their movements in the houses where they were being kept.