The first witness in the Timothy Omotoso trial says up to 30 girls were given nicknames and referred to as “wives” when they stayed in the rape-accused pastor’s Umhlanga Rocks house in Durban.
Cheryl Zondi told the court on Wednesday that before she left the house for the last time in 2013, she had been kept in the room next door to his main bedroom.
“The girls who lived there were given a nickname and we were called his ‘wives’,” the young Zondi said when she took the stand in the trial in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth.
She described the three accused as her molester, groomer and Port Elizabeth hostess.
When she was first invited to join the inner circle of girls that became Omotoso’s entourage, she was given a set of house rules, she said.
“We were expected to take a bath or a shower about four times in that house,” said Zondi.
“Tim Omotoso didn’t allow foul smells in his house,” said Zondi.
She was the first from a list of 49 witnesses who are expected to be called to give evidence on the sordid sex life of the televangelist.
Omotoso was nabbed in a dramatic arrest operation at the Port Elizabeth International Airport on 20 April last year.
His two co-accused, Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho, were arrested months later; one was heavily pregnant and the other was a mother to a five-day-old second baby.
Zondi looked Omotoso and the two women straight in the eyes as she emotionally narrated her story of grooming and molestation in the Durban house, allegedly at the hands of the man known as the “Man of God”.
She said her life, alongside about 30 others, was that of a sex slave who would be called into Omotoso’s bedroom, as and when he had interest in a particular woman, at a specific time.
“We would be called in differently at different times; he would send one of the groomers to summon us to his bedroom, where we would be at his mercy,” said Zondi.
She said once inside the bedroom, she found Omotoso lying in bed in his shorts and he patted the side next to him, indicating that she should join him on the bed and not kneel on the bedside.
She described Omotoso as a selfish predator who demanded that she perform horrible sexual acts.
She said he would do this to her every time she was in the house.
“He would do this to me every weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, if there was time. If I was there on school holidays, he would expect me to do this every day. The only time I would catch a break was when I was on a menstrual cycle, which I had to report to him by SMS,” she said.
“That’s the only time I would catch a break from satisfying him.”
Zondi said the abuse she endured would happen in Durban, Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay, Cape Town, East London and Secunda.
“He also took us to Israel and Nigeria.”
She said Omotoso would make her pleasure him by stroking her between her thighs and fondling her inner-most private parts and eventually escalated the acts to having her perform oral sex on him.
She said he used musical training as a cover for her to go to his place and he would use this time to make her satisfy him sexually.
Throughout Zondi’s testimony, Omotoso rocked back and forth, brushing his thigh. He also shook his head and wiped tears from his face at some stages of the testimony.
While Omotoso was seemingly caught up in different emotions, his wife was laughing and shaking her head in the back rows of the courtroom.
Following the testimony, prosecutor Nceba Ntelwa asked the court for permission to amend the indictment.
Omotoso’s legal representative Peter Daubermann objected to the request and asked for more time to prepare for cross-examination.
After discussions in chambers, the request for an adjournment was granted.
The matter has been postponed to Monday, 15 October.