Neliswa Mxakaza, a former Idols contestant, backed up the testimony of her twin sister against rape-accused televangelist Timothy Omotoso and implicated his second accused Lusanda Sulani during her evidence in the Eastern Cape High Court in Port Elizabeth on Monday.
Omotoso and his two accused, Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho, are on trial on 97 charges, including rape, human trafficking and racketeering.
Following her sister Anele’s testimony last week, Neliswa took the stand on Monday afternoon, telling Judge Irma Schoeman about her alleged sexual molestation while living in the Jesus Dominion International mission house in Mhlanga Rocks in Durban.
Neliswa started her evidence by describing how shocked she was that Omotoso’s wife didn’t live in the house.
“I expected to see Omotoso’s wife, his children too, but they were not there, which was very strange to me,” she said.
She said as soon as they arrived at the house – after fetching their clothes from home – Sulani and a person identified as “Fezeka” took them to Omotoso’s bedroom upstairs, where they found him wearing boxer shorts and a shirt.
“He had been lambasting a girl called Thandeka, who was quickly dismissed as soon as they arrived.”
Neliswa said they were told by either Fezeka or Lusanda to kneel down and greet Omotoso by hugging him.
“Later, during rehearsal, he gave me some notes to sing, and they were too high for me to sing. I must have frown[ed] because Sindi whispered to me that I should never frown or show any displeasure at what Omotoso says,” Neliswa testified.
Neliswa has – like her twin – linked Sulani to allegedly being responsible for grooming girls in Omotoso’s Mhlanga Rocks house.
“Lusanda and Fezeka were the ones who guided us on what to do and how to behave and they were always with us in the house,” she said.
Skimpy dresses in mission house
“What I noted was that the girls in the house dressed in very short skirts and Omotoso made sexual comments to the girls. Even though I don’t remember the exact words, he used to comment about bums and his penis,” Neliswa.
“I thought it was uncomfortable and awkward for a man of God to speak like that.”
She said the daily activities in the house included rehearsing and massaging as well as picking and preparing Omotoso’s clothes.
“Before the first incident [of sexual molestation], I was called twice up to Omotoso’s bedroom by Sindi.
“When I got there, he asked about my love life and if I was still a virgin. He asked if I wanted him in my love life. I told him I don’t have a boyfriend and I’m still a virgin.
“He then told me to leave. The second time, days later, Sindi told me to go back to his room… He asked me the same questions and told me to leave.”
Wife laughs as Neliswa breaks down
Neliswa testified about her third visit to Omotoso’s room, where he allegedly asked her to close the door and rub his feet.
With a shaky voice, she lowered her head and said: “And I did that.”
As she broke down, Taiwo Omotoso, Omotoso’s wife, was seen chuckling in the public gallery, just as the court adjourned to give Neliswa time to compose herself.
Moments later a court orderly announced that the witness was ready to continue. Omotoso’s wife was heard saying: “That was quick”. She chuckled again.
Neliswa then continued with her testimony.
“I was wearing my pyjamas and he was wearing his boxer shorts when I arrived in his bedroom,” she said.
She said Omotoso asked her to move her hands further up his legs, to his thighs, as she was massaging him.
“I ignored him and continued massaging his feet.”
She was allegedly then asked to get onto the bed, where he allegedly mounted her and pushed his penis between her thighs, on top of her clothes.
“… he moved his penis between my thighs, rubbing my vagina with it. After some time, he came on my pyjamas.”
Judge Schoeman asked what she meant by “he came”.
“He ejaculated on my pyjamas,” Neliswa responded.
“He said, ‘Let’s pray and ask God for mercy.’ In his prayers, he was just asking God to forgive us. He also recited Psalm 51,” she said.
He then allegedly told her to leave and never to tell anyone what had happened.
‘Are you still a virgin… So what?’
After leaving the room, Neliswa said, she came across two girls who wore short skirts while sweeping the floor. She said “another one was doing something else in the house”.
“I asked them, ‘Is this what you do in this house?’ They didn’t answer me and I went passed to our room and woke my sister up, told her we needed to go because she didn’t know what that man had done to me.”
She said Sindi and “Dolly” woke up and shortly after that Fezeka and Lusanda came into the room.
“I can’t remember who between Fezeka and Lusanda told me that Omotoso had a weakness and we were chosen by God to deal with this weakness.
“Lusanda asked me, ‘Are you still a virgin?’ I told her yes and she said, ‘Kengoku’ [So what?]. In other words, she meant that still being a virgin was more important than what had just happened to me. I was shocked,” she said.
She said the following day Omotoso disappeared from the house for a full day.
“I was told that he was not happy that I was offended by what he did to me,” she added.
She said she was told to pretend that she wasn’t offended, to sit next to him as if nothing had happened.
“He molested me many times. I don’t even remember how many times,” Neliswa said.
“During the many times, I remember Lusanda calling me, I remember Fezeka calling me… to his room. They called me,” she stated.
Neliswa said Lusanda knew what was happening in Omotoso’s room, claiming they openly talked about the incidents in codes. She added that Omotoso used to joke about Lusanda’s baby.
“He would say, ‘The baby is fire fire, she is getting ready now’, and they would laugh about it. He meant Lusanda’s baby was ready for him and Lusanda agreed with him, while he was talking about her own baby,” she said.
“Lusanda, when the incident first happened to me, told me that what happened to me had happened to everyone in the house.”
When the court adjourned, Omotoso stopped in front of his wife before going down the stairs.
She uttered something and he replied: “Many problems”. They laughed and he continued down the stairs.
The trial continues on Tuesday morning.