Port Elizabeth - A Nigerian pastor charged with human trafficking and the rape of young girls was back in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Thursday together with his two alleged henchwomen.
The 58-year-old televangelist 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.
Alleged accomplices Lusanda Solani, 36 of Durban, and Zukiswa Sitho, 28, of Port Elizabeth, allegedly recruited girls all over the country and monitored their movements in the houses where they were being kept.
All three are being represented by Port Elizabeth attorney, Peter Daubermann.
During court proceedings on Thursday, State prosecutor Advocate Zelda Swanepoel said that a possible trial date had been set for July 31 up until September 31.
The dates were provisional at this stage pending the availability of Daubermann.
Swanepoel said that the State was still awaiting authorization from the National Director of Public Prosecution (NDPP) for the centralisation of charges which include racketeering.
The pastor faces charges related to contravention of the Sexual Offences Act‚ which include charges of rape and sexual assault.
He also faces five additional charges of fraud and for being in the country illegally.
Daubermann told the court that he had lodged a petition to the Supreme Court of Appeal for leave to appeal against the pastor’s denial of bail by Magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi.
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.
Both left court with an entourage shielding their faces with an umbrella before being sped off in a white BMW.
The pastor was arrested on April 20 last year by the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) at the Port Elizabeth Airport.
According to the State, some of the alleged victims are as young as 13 years old.
The case was postponed until April 11 when the matter may be transferred to the Port Elizabeth High Court.
African News Agency/ANA