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#OmotosoTrial: Call for churches in SA to be audited

The National Heritage Council says this would prevent unscrupulous pastors and some churches from duping unsuspecting victims by taking advantage of their faith.

A screengrab of Pastor Timothy Omotoso in the Port Elizabeth High Court.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Heritage Council has called on government to audit all churches in South Africa.

The council says this would prevent unscrupulous pastors and some churches from duping unsuspecting victims by taking advantage of their faith.

It has issued the call against the backdrop of Nigerian Pastor Timothy Omotoso's trial in the Port Elizabeth High Court. Omotoso and his two co-accused face a string of charges, including rape and human trafficking.

The council's Sonwabile Mancotywa says religious institutions shouldn't operate with impunity.

“You then develop a code of ethics, a code of good practice which will set some standards and norms of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. We are able to protect our people while preserving the dignity of the church at the same time.”

JUDGE RECUSING HIMSELF

Earlier, defence attorney Peter Daubermann brought an application on behalf of two of his clients - Omotoso and Lusanda Sulani - calling for the judge to recuse himself.

His argument was based on how the judge addressed the State's first witness Cheryl Zondi when she concluded the first part of her testimony.

Judge Mandela Makaula told the 22-year-old to concentrate on her future and forget about what's happening in court.

He also told her that she was not doing this for herself, but on behalf of justice.

In Monday's application, Daubermann argued his clients felt they would not get a fair trial and accused the judge of having been overly sympathetic towards Zondi.

He also suggested the judge had already decided to convict the accused.

The State argued the defence had no grounds for the application.

Judge Makaula ruled it has no merit and dismissed it.