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‘I’m not scared of death’: Omotoso whistleblower survives shooting

2018-05-16 17:34

A woman central in the build-up of the case against Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso, who has been embroiled in sex-trafficking allegations, was caught up in a near-death shooting outside her home in Port Elizabeth.

The 39-year-old woman helped other women lay charges against charismatic pastor Omotoso.

The case against Omotoso and his co-accused was on Tuesday transferred to the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth for a pre-trial conference on August 2.

Omotoso and three co-accused are facing a total of 63 charges, including human trafficking, racketeering, contravention of the Sexual Offences Act, and rape.

The “whistleblower”, whose identity is known to City Press, was outside her home just before 8pm on Tuesday evening after making her way from her backyard flat when she spotted another person lingering around.

“I was going to fetch my dinner in the kitchen. As I was walking next to the house I saw a human figure ahead of me. Without paying attention to the figure I went towards it – but I was also on my phone speaking to a friend back in Joburg,” she said.

When she reached the spot where she saw the figure, there was nothing; so she went around the corner to the front of the house.

“I thought it was my younger brother. I was going after him to call him back into the house because he knows I don’t want him outside when it gets dark,” she said.

“But there was nobody in the front yard. I found this to be rather strange because I had seen the human figure. I’m sure it was not my imagination.

“I went all the way in front of the garage and looked over the boundary wall. I was still on the phone as I looked towards the open space next to our house.”

She said she saw three men standing about 100 metres or so from her house.

“As I looked over the fence I heard a voice shouting profanities, saying I must leave ‘daddy’ alone. Two loud bangs went off,” she said.

“I screamed because they caught me off guard. I ran towards the house. As I made for the main door, my dad was rushing out of the house with a stick. I bumped into him and he fell.”

She said everything happened so fast and she ended up inside the house.

“After that I was so shocked and agitated, I called several people, while my parents called the police.

The incident took place on the same day that Omotoso appeared in court and his trial date was announced.”

Five pertinent incidents mark the footprints leading to the night time shooting:

A song sung by the Jesus Dominion International congregants on Tuesday outside court that carried a veiled threat;

Insulting hidden identity calls made to the woman over the past few months;

The announcement of the beginning of Omotoso’s trial;

Photographs of the woman that have been plastered all over KwaZakhele Township’s main roads, allegedly by Omotoso’s supporters and;

Threats made to her and her Uber driver, by Omotoso’s supporters, as she left the court.

In a video captured outside court, crowds with posters bearing Omotoso’s name changed their tune, as soon as the woman came out of court on Tuesday.

The supporters broke out in a modified version of the popular Phakama song and sang “Yoyika … ixesha lisondele,” [Be afraid … the time is near].

She said some individuals in the crowd went as far as harassing the Uber driver she used to go home after Omotoso’s court appearance.

“I could feel it in my spirit that the singing and insults had more meaning today,” she said.

She said she had been getting private calls threatening her about the case.

“All this time, I have known that something might happen to me. What angers me is that I don’t know whether they are just threatening me or they want to kill me or what,” she said.

She said she is not afraid of death: “If they want to kill me, they can kill me.”

Three weeks ago, during a meeting with City Press in Johannesburg, she said that she had received calls from her mother, who was in Port Elizabeth.

She told her that photos of her had been plastered on boundary walls and street poles near her home in KwaZakhele.

She said she knew that it was Omotoso’s supporters who were responsible.

“I asked my brother to go and investigate, as I was in Johannesburg,” she said.

“He indeed confirmed that my face was all over the boundary walls of homes and containers. He said there were some messages accompanying the photos.

“When I came back just over two weeks ago, I went to inspect the trail. I couldn’t believe it when I got there,” she said.

Every wall and street pole in Daku road had her social media photos on them, with threatening messages scribbled on the photos.

She said they had inked out faces of other people in the photos.

“They wrote stuff like: I must leave Omotoso alone, I am such a prostitute, the case is coming ...”

When she went back on Thursday last week, she said she found new photos.

“I found new posters and went straight to the police station here in KwaZakhele,” she said.

However, the police told her there was nothing they could do. She then called a friend who worked within the police services.

“He told me he will make sure that I get assistance. Later he called me and told me to go back to the police station and ask for the station commander. A case of crimen injuria was eventually opened.

“If I had not persisted, this incident would not have any weight – I would be just a statistic whose matter is not linked to the clear motives,” she said.

The obviously shaken woman said that she was angry with the people who sent the thugs that shot at her.

“They can kill me if they want to, but the case will continue as scheduled,” she told City Press.

She said she would not back down.

“I’m not going to leave these kids while they still need me; those victims still need me.”

Prior to the dramatic airport arrest of Omotoso on April 20 last year, a group of girls who later became key state witnesses in the rape and human trafficking case approached the woman.

They were seeking help with bringing Omotoso before the law, on allegations of sexual misconduct against them.

“I became their confidant as they transitioned from his grip to becoming the solid foundation on the current case against him,” she said.

“In the past year, the case has grown – with more young girls coming forward and giving evidence of sexual harassment.”

She had provided support and assistance to many of the girls who stood up against the pastor.

Omotoso remains in jail at St Albans Correctional Centre in Port Elizabeth. He has been fighting to secure bail, which has been denied three times.

On Tuesday, the matter was remanded to August 3, when the trial will resume at the Port Elizabeth High Court.

He is standing trial with two women who are his co-accused.

The charges against a recently arrested third woman, who is in the final stages of her pregnancy, had been provisionally postponed.

Meanwhile, the woman who has been threatened, says she is not scared.

“Urgh! I’m p*ssed off, I’m angry. I wish they can face me, not send people that I don’t know in the darkness – people that I cannot even see. I wish they can face me,” she said with clear frustration.

She said she’s not scared of dying: “We’re all gonna die; it’s just a matter of different dates ... I’m not scared of death.”

She said even if they were to succeed in killing her she would have died knowing that she had done something good in nailing Omotoso.

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July 15 2018