Port Elizabeth - A Nigerian pastor and his alleged henchwomen, charged with human trafficking, made their first appearance in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday for a pre-trial conference.
The 58-year-old televangelist faces a string of charges including rape. 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.
He also faces five additional charges of fraud and for being in the country illegally.
His alleged accomplices have been accused of recruiting girls from all over the country and monitoring their movements in the houses where they were being kept.
All three of the accused are being represented by Port Elizabeth attorney, Peter Daubermann.
The courtroom was packed on Thursday with a heavy police presence. The pastor’s supporters gathered outside the building in their numbers singing and praising him.
Judge Dayalin Chetty declared the case trial ready. The trial is expected to get underway on October 8.
The pastor was arrested on April 20, last year, by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, known as the Hawks, at the Port Elizabeth Airport.
According to the State, some of the alleged victims are as young as 13 years old.
The pastor has been denied bail on two occasions, as he was deemed a flight risk. The women were arrested in November last year and are out on bail of R2 000.
African News Agency/ANA