Several church leaders are calling on the church to speak out against abuses within the religious sector. This as the trial of pastor, Timothy Omotoso, resumed in the High Court in Port Elizabeth on Monday. The state has indicated that it would call the second witness.
The first witness, 22-year-old Cheryl Zondi, testified last week that Omotoso allegedly sexually groomed and raped her since she was 14-years-old. Omotoso and two co-accused – Zukiswa Sitho and Lusanda Sulani – are facing 97 charges, including sexual assault, racketeering and human trafficking.
Pastor Siyabonga Malinga has taken to social media to question why South Africa is sinking even deeper into a moral abyss, while apathy prevails.
“There is something that needs to happen from the church’s side to ensure that leaders in churches do what they ought to prevent these things from happening. Leaders must step in and be able to confront what we are dealing within society. Some people take advantage of the situation. The Bible speaks about knowing those who labour among you. We see people coming up in this nation in disguise as men of God.”
On Sunday, Omotoso’s Jesus Dominion International Church was shut down due to protests by members of the community, the African National Congress and the Economic Freedom Fighters. EFF Ward Secretary in the Nelson Mandela Bay, Vusumzi Gqalane says it was their aim to shut down the church.
“We’ve said we are going to shut it down and they said to us they won’t shut down. But yesterday we shut down the church and today we are going to court to support the victims. We say that it cannot be business as usual as we must support the victims. We see many women are supporting this man and in our view, the church is not what it says it is. It can’t be that women are the ones that support a person who has committed tragic crimes like this.”
However, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality says no church has been closed down yet in the metro. This follows media reports on the closure of the Jesus Dominion International Church, in North End, where a group of protesters were calling for its shutdown. The protest was orchestrated by supporters of Cheryl Zondi, the first witness in the Omotoso case. Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki says the Metro have decided to inspect various churches.
“From this week onwards, we will check churches in the city inclusive of Despatch and Port Elizabeth. Check each piece of bylaws – check infringements if there are any issue notices if you have to. We will close others. We can confirm that we have not closed any churches as yet. There will be a formal programme starting this week of checking and inspecting through our building inspectorate directorate from Human Settlement.”