Port Elizabeth, September 8 – A Nigerian pastor charged with human trafficking, sexual assault, the rape of young girls and for being in South Africa illegally, was refused bail for the second time round in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
The televangelist brought a fresh bail application based on new facts. However, Magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi found that no such new facts existed and denied bail.
Mashiyi said that nothing had come to the fore, particularly around the pastor’s legality in the country.
Mashiyi said that new facts should not constitute a reshuffling of old evidence.
She added that the issue around the pastor’s work permit was dealt with in his first bail application and was, in her view, not a new fact based on the argument by the defence, that the permit was supported by a letter from the Department of Home Affairs.
“The contents of the letter are not in any shape pronouncing on the legality of the applicant in the country,” the magistrate found.
She said that the letter only served to remind the pastor of its expiration date and that should there be any negative information, his application would be null and void.
As previously stated in court, Senior Immigration Officer Ivan Claasen had compiled a docket and the pastor is being charged with being in the country illegally.
Mashiyi said that the order made by the Port Elizabeth High Court last month did not pronounce on the pastor’s legal status but rather ordered the police to transport him to the Visa Verification Centre to process the renewal of his permit.
The pastor’s lawyers argued that his address could now be verified, but Mashiyi questioned why advocate Alwyn Roussouw did not enlighten the court as to why such address could not be verified when the pastor’s first bail bid was launched.
“I disagree that this counts as a new fact, as this was fully dealt with by way of evidence in the first application,” she said.
The televangelist had also argued that he could not properly consult in order to prepare when he first launched his application for bail.
“I find no merit in this argument, throughout the first bail application for bail, it has never been placed on record that the applicant was in fact ill-equipped,” said Mashiyi.
The case against the pastor was postponed until November 1 for further investigation.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Tsepo Ndwalaza said the pastor faced additional charges of fraud and for being in the country illegally.
The case involving fraud was also postponed until November 1 for a Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) decision on the docket.
According to testimony before court, senior members of the church would allegedly recruit “vulnerable” girls between 13 and 15 and lure them into performing sexual acts with the televangelist.
Following a foiled attempt to effect an arrest in Bloemfontein over the Easter weekend, the televangelist was arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) on April 20, at the Port Elizabeth airport and has been in custody ever since.
Judgement is expected in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Friday in a bail application brought on new facts by a Nigerian pastor charged with human trafficking, sexual assault and the rape of young girls.
The pastor, who is based in Durban, is alleged to have trafficked more than 30 girls and women from various branches of his church countrywide. He allegedly took them to a house in Umhlanga, in KwaZulu-Natal, where he sexually exploited them.
Following a foiled arrest in Bloemfontein on the Easter weekend, the televangelist was arrested by the Directorate for Priority Crime investigation (the Hawks) on April 20 at the Port Elizabeth airport. He has been in custody ever since.
On August 29, the court heard that an additional charge for allegedly being in South Africa illegally could be added to the charges against the televangelist. He was meant to apply for bail on new facts, however, proceedings in Court 22 were cut short due to an urgent application brought before the Port Elizabeth High Court to have the pastor’s work visa renewed.
By the afternoon, the pastor was brought before the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court and the State officially added a charge relating to him being in the country illegally.
Meanwhile, at the Port Elizabeth High Court, it was ordered by agreement that the police take all the necessary steps to transport the televangelist to the Department of Home Affairs’ Visa Verification Centre so that he could lodge an application for the extension of his general work visa.
– African News Agency (ANA)