Port Elizabeth – A Nigerian pastor charged with human trafficking, sexual assault and the rape of young girls will be re-applying for bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court, based on new facts.
The Durban-based televangelist, who recently celebrated his 59th birthday behind bars, is alleged to have trafficked more than 30 girls and women, who were from various branches of his church.
He has been in custody since his dramatic arrest at the Port Elizabeth International Airport on April 20 by members of the SAPS Tactical Task Team.
‘Skilled sex offenders’
His initial bail application was denied last month, as he was deemed a flight risk.
At the time, Hawks chief investigating officer Peter Plaatjies told the court how the pastor had a modus operandi similar to that of skilled sex offenders who preyed on young girls.
Plaatjies explained how the pastor had used older women to recruit vulnerable girls, some as young as 13, who came from impoverished communities and who did not have father figures in their lives.
He said these girls would then be vetted, and transported to a house in Durban where the pastor lived. There they would be pampered, given luxuries and cash, and would be groomed for alleged sexual encounters with the pastor.
Allegations included that the pastor would have the girls give him full body massages, would make them lie on a bed while he masturbated next to them, before eventually leading to full penetration.
New defence lawyer
The pastor made a brief appearance on Friday with new counsel, in the form of defence attorney James Riley, who was acting on instructions from McLoughlin Porter Inc, a legal firm based in Vereeniging. He had previously been represented by Advocate Alfonso Hattingh.
Speaking briefly to the media after the appearance, Riley said he had only been instructed to appear on Friday on the firm’s behalf, and would not be representing the pastor in his new bail application. He said he did not know who the new representatives would be.
“From what I can gather they will be appointing counsel from other areas, who will be flying in next week to consult with him and clarify the finer details regarding the application.”
The matter was postponed to Monday, July 24, for a date for the new application to be confirmed with magistrate Naidu Sanjani, who had presided over the first application. That sitting would be done via a video crossing with the pastor in St Albans.
Riley said the request for the crossing was from a security perspective, as well as health reasons.
“There [are] a lot of security operations, I presume based on previous appearances. Also, my client has informed me that he is suffering a little from ill health at the moment and the up and down and waiting in the holding cells downstairs here has also produced some anxiety,” he said.
Less support at court
Members of the police’s public order policing unit have had a strong presence at the court for his appearances, which have been marked with hundreds of supporters, mainly congregants from the pastor’s church, protesting outside and calling for his release.
Political parties, most notably the ANC Women’s League and members of the EFF, have also protested outside the court during initial proceedings, calling for his bail to be denied.
Media have battled to find seating in the packed public galleries.
His latest appearance, however, saw only a handful of supporters at the courthouse, filling a single row in the public gallery.
At the end of proceedings, the pastor turned to the gallery and his supporters stood, waved and bowed to him as he was led back to the holding cells.
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