Omotoso Rape Trial -Council of Churches’ statement



October 18, 2018
Media Release

Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana

The people of South Africa and the churches have watched with gripping horror and disbelief the
trial proceedings of the so-called pastor, Mr Tim Omotoso, charged with rape and human
trafficking. The manner in which the victim, young and courageous Cheryl Zondi, was brutalised
in a cross examination that was reminiscent of the apartheid Security Branch interrogation, left
many aghast and with serious questions about the conduct of the judicial system.
The South African Council of Churches (SACC) condemns outright any of the despicable practices
for which Mr Omotoso has been indicted. To name anyone who conducts such practices as a pastor
is to grossly misrepresent what it means to be a pastor. The brutalisation of a rape victim in the
manner we have witnessed urges us to call on the Judicial Authorities – the Department of Justice,
the National Prosecuting Authority, and the Office of the Chief Justice, to give serious
consideration to the creation of special courts for rape charges that will have a particular code and
culture, that prevents the additional victimisation and brutal humiliation of victims. The SACC is
making representations to the justice authorities in this regard.
Secondly, the SACC is exploring an appropriate way of establishing an “Unburdening” Process
for both the religious and business sectors. On the former, to provide a facility for people and
victims to tell their stories and be afforded appropriate ministries even ahead of possible court
proceedings for which they would need to be emotionally prepared. Cheryl Zondo’s heroism is
outstandingly remarkable, and very few would have survived that frightful Omotoso defense
grilling. An intermediate “unburdening” process might encourage more victims to come forward.
The humanitarian NGO Rape Crisis has previously estimated that if all rape cases were reported,
the number would more than 1300 cases per day in South Africa; adding in summation, that “the
nature and extent of rape in South Africa, as well as the inadequate systems in place to respond to
it, continue to pose a significant obstacle in the path towards achieving a just society in which
citizens, and particularly women, can live with dignity and freedom from the fear of sexual
For this reason, the burning matter of gender based violence is in the current SACC initiated
National Convention of South Africa Process to Reimagine, Redesign and Reorganise the South
African life experience.
The Omotoso case, together with the Eastern Cape Ngcobo “Seven Angels” religious rogues who
preyed on innocent people, brings into sharp focus the urgent need to root out criminality
masquerading as religious practice.
This comes back to the pressing matter of concluding on the acceptable manner of regulating the
church sector in ways acceptable to churches and to government for the protection of citizens, and
the upholding of appropriate ethical and professional standards in the practice of Christian pastoral
ministry in all traditions of Christian expression.
— End —
Issued by the office of the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches, Bishop
Malusi Mpumlwana.
For media queries contact:
Moagisi Sibanda
Communications Director
South African Council of Churches
Tel: 082 295 1581