Port Elizabeth – A Nigerian pastor charged with human trafficking, sexual assault and the rape of young girls is now facing an additional charge for being in South Africa illegally.
The 59-year-old televangelist had initially appeared in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s court for his second bail application but it was postponed to Wednesday due to delays in an urgent application in the high court relating to his work visa.
The new charge relates to evidence before the court in his first bail application.
According to testimony from Home Affairs immigration officer, Ivan Classen at the time, the pastor had six passports and he could not access the first passport, which had been issued in May 2000.
Classen told the court the pastor’s visa could not be confirmed and that South African law obliged Nigerians to enter the country under the strict condition of being in possession of a visa.
Claasen said on July 18 of the same year, the pastor had travelled to Botswana from South Africa and made an application for a work permit at the South African embassy in Botswana.
He went on to explain how the pastor had then used the same visa to travel in and out of the country three times, despite its single-entry status.
“He travelled in August 2000, leaving South Africa; he travelled again in October 2000, entering South Africa and lastly departed in June 2001,” said Classen.
New visa application
As a result, the Durban-based pastor’s bail application was postponed as his defence council was seeking an urgent high court order to allow the pastor to renew his work visa.
Appearing briefly before magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi on Tuesday morning, the pastor’s new legal counsel, Advocate Alwyn Rossouw SC asked for the matter to stand down until the afternoon, as they had an urgent application in front of Judge Glenn Goosen in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth.
Rossouw told the court that they had received notification from the Department of Home Affairs on August 14 advising them that the pastor’s current work visa would expire on Wednesday.
The application sought an order to have either the police or members from correctional services transport the pastor to a visa facilitation centre, as he needed to apply for the renewal in person.
The motion was initially opposed by the police, which led to a delay in the application and subsequent postponement of the pastor’s bail application to Wednesday.
After further consultation in chambers, an order was given to ensure the pastor was transported to the facility for his visa application.
Strong police presence at magistrate’s court
The magistrate’s court was under lockdown for most of the day with a strong police presence from the tactical response unit and public order policing, as hundreds of the pastor’s supporters gathered outside in support.
At least six armed police officers were inside the courtroom, wearing tactical gear and armed with rifles, while access to court was strictly monitored.
The pastor 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 arrest at the Port Elizabeth airport on April 20 by members of the SAPS Tactical Task Team.