Human trafficking pastor refused bail

File: The magistrate said it was clear the State has prima facie evidence against the pastor. Photo: via Max Pixel

PORT ELIZABETH – A Nigerian pastor charged with human trafficking, sexual assault and raping young girls was denied bail in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Friday.

In her judgement, Magistrate Thandeka Mashiyi said that the pastor was charged with serious offences and the minimum sentence, if he were to be convicted, would be life imprisonment.

Mashiyi said that she had to consider pertinent factors, including that the pastor was a Nigerian national who held two current Nigerian passports. She added that he did not have any fixed assets in South Africa, although he did own six vehicles, each to the value of over a half a million rand.

“His family, wife and children are all United Kingdom citizens. His church has international branches which he visits from time to time. He is regarded as an illegal immigrant [and] there is nothing tying the applicant to South Africa.”

Mashiyi raised suspicion about the pastor’s travel documents because, according to senior Immigration Officer Ivan Klaasen, the televangelist was in possession of a fraudulent permit.

She said that based on the evidence from the investigating officer, it was clear that the State had prima facie evidence against the pastor.

READ: Klerksdorp brothel: Human trafficking ring suspected

“Based on the strength of the State’s case, the gravity of the offences, as well as, if convicted, the applicant faces very lengthy sentences, I find that there is a likelihood that if he is released on bail he might attempt to flee and evade his trial,” said Mashiyi.

The Durban-based pastor allegedly trafficked more than 30 "vulnerable" teenage girls and women from various branches of his church countrywide. He then allegedly took them to a house in Umhlanga, where he sexually exploited them.

The girls, aged between 13 and 15, were allegedly told they would be “cursed and die” if they told anyone about what happened.

There were also claims that senior Hawks officials were protecting the televangelist.

The case was postponed to 21 July for further investigation.

African News Agency

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