PORT ELIZABETH - An official from the Department of Home Affairs was at the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday and served Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso with documentation declaring that he was a prohibited citizen in South Africa.
Acting NPA Regional spokesperson, Sibulele Boyi said that Omotoso had made an application to the department to have his prohibited citizenship declaration lifted.
Boyi said the application was refused.
After Judge Irma Schoeman dismissed an application by the defence to compel the State to provide further particulars pertaining to the charge sheet, an official from the department accompanied by Hawks investigator Peter Plaatjies, served Omotoso with papers to sign.
Omotoso was reluctant to sign the papers at first and asked for his lawyer Peter Daubermann. Congregants from the Jesus Dominion International (JDI) church were also seen encouraging Omotoso not to sign the papers.
The pastor eventually signed the papers after the official informed him that his lawyer was not involved in the matter.
This means that Omotoso, who faces 63 main charges, including human trafficking, rape and sexual assault, is in the country illegally, according to the department of home affairs.
At his first bail application in 2017, the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court denied Omotoso bail raising issues that the pastor was a Nigerian national and held two current Nigerian passports. The court found that he did not have any fixed assets in South Africa, although he did own six vehicles, each to the value of over half a million rand.
It further emerged that he had been living in the country "illegally" after it was discovered that at least one of his permits was “issued fraudulently”, an immigration officer testified at the time.
Senior immigration officer Ivan Klaasen said that he had discovered that Omotoso had six passports, and not four, as the court was previously told. During May 2000, a request for eight permits, including a temporary residence permit, was made - all of which were issued the same day, Klaasen said at the time.
A permit issued by a former home affairs official in Port Elizabeth was fraudulent, making the televangelist eligible for deportation.
At the the time the court found that the pastor's means of travel documentation were questionable because according to Klaasen, the televangelist was in possession of a fraudulent permit.
Meanwhile, in dismissing an earlier application to compel the State to provide further particulars pertaining to the charge sheet, Schoeman described Daubermann as “deliberately obtuse”.
Daubermann wanted the State to provide the times, dates and places of the alleged offences.
However, Schoeman in her ruling on Thursday said that the State could not be expected to provide particulars that it did not have.
She added that the charges were reasonably sufficient in nature.
Schoeman highlighted that the further particulars provided previously, amplified by the summary of the substantial facts in the indictment, put all three accused in a position to adequately prepare a defence.
Omotoso’s co-accused, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho, are accused of recruiting girls from all over the country for purposes of sexual exploitation.
Omotoso was arrested on April 20, 2017, by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), at the Port Elizabeth Airport. He has been denied bail on two occasions as he was deemed a flight risk.
The women were arrested in November 2017 and are out on bail of R2,000.