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JOHANNESBURG - The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training on Monday commended the unwavering support that the University of Johannesburg (UJ) gave one of its students, Cheryl Zondi.

Zondi testified in the rape trial of Pastor Timothy Omotoso at the Port Elizabeth High Court last week.

The committee said that the courage Zondi displayed on the witness stand was, in part, due to the support from the university, as well as other organisations and individuals from all walks of life.

“The same support should also be provided to other victims of rape and sexual harassment, when such cases are reported on campuses,” committee chairperson Connie September said.

The chairperson also congratulated the administrations and student bodies of higher learning institutions for a peaceful Students’ Representative Council (SRC) election season. 

“We congratulate student bodies who won elections and call for the student representative council] SRC induction by both Parliament and the department of higher education and training," September said. 

"Student leaders should know their roles, which include, among other things, assisting in registering students for 2019, ensuring that funds from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) are spent correctly and encouraging timeous applications.” 

She said student leaders must also ensure that effective policies were in place and implemented to protect women against gender-based violence.

“Institutions of higher learning are places of learning and should be regarded as such. As the late former President Nelson Mandela once said: 'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’,” September said.

Zondi, 22, testified that she was raped and sexually abused in 2010 at the hands of Omotoso, when she was 14. She joined the Jesus Dominion International (JDI) in 2009, at the age of 13.

The Nigerian pastor faces 63 main charges and 34 alternative counts which include human trafficking, rape, sexual assault, racketeering and conspiracy in aiding another person to commit sexual assault. 

His two alleged henchwomen, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho, are accused of recruiting girls from all over the country for purposes of sexual exploitation.

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.

* Read more on the #OmotosoTrial here .

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African News Agency (ANA)