Omo­toso’s style courts con­tro­versy

Flam­boy­ant out­fits court con­tro­versy

Sunday World - - Front Page - By Meta Mphahlele mphahlelema@sun­day­

As Nige­rian pas­tor Ti­mothy Omo­toso’s rape trial re­sumed at the East­ern Cape High Court in Port Eliz­a­beth on Thurs­day, the flam­boy­ant pas­tor rocked up in court with a bright silky, shiny sky-blue jacket with match­ing san­dals with up­turned tips.

Since the be­gin­ning of the trial the charis­matic Omo­toso has rocked up in court with colour­ful out­fits of­ten only seen worn by run­way mod­els mak­ing fash­ion state­ments.

There was a pais­ley print pur­ple tuxedo jacket teamed with a frilly high-col­lared shirt that set tongues wag­ging on so­cial me­dia about the ap­pro­pri­ate­ness of his avant-garde style and flam­boy­ant pos­tur­ing.

Many on so­cial me­dia ex­pressed their dis­ap­proval of the pas­tor, with some say­ing that his flam­boy­ance should have been a clear mes­sage for con­gre­gants to run for their lives.

One per­son on Twit­ter posted a pic­ture of Omo­toso in the white vin­tage shirt, cap­tioned, “This isn’t a Hal­loween cos­tume, it’s a real mon­ster dress code”.

What irked the pub­lic more is how the pas­tor rocks up in court, Bible in hand, with a big smile on his face.

Je­sus Do­min­ion In­ter­na­tional Church leader Omo­toso and his two ac­cused are fac­ing 63 charges and 34 al­ter­na­tive charges that in­clude rape, sex­ual as­sault and rack­e­teer­ing.

On Thurs­day, Omo­toso’s le­gal team lost their bid to have the judge in the case, Man­dela Makaula, re­cuse him­self on the ba­sis that he seemed to have acted in a sym­pa­thetic man­ner to­wards wit­ness Ch­eryl Zondi dur­ing her tes­ti­mony.

When asked if the way Omo­toso dresses to court could have an im­pact on the sen­tenc­ing, an at­tor­ney Nor­man Mon­t­jane from law firm K Mon­t­jane In­cor­po­rated in Tem­bisa, said even though wit­nesses or peo­ple on trial have to look pre­sentable in court, there is no pre­scribed at­tire to at­tend court.

He said though some peo­ple may have dif­fer­ent views re­gard­ing Omo­toso’s colour­ful at­tire, it must also be con­sid­ered that his dress sense may be in­flu­enced by where he comes from, say­ing the dress sense of peo­ple in Nige­ria can be more colour­ful.

How­ever, Mon­t­jane noted that con­sid­er­ing the sen­si­tiv­ity of the case and se­ri­ous charges Omo­toso is fac­ing, his de­meanour in court shows no re­morse.

“It is advisable to wear nor­mal [a muted], less colour­ful suit to court but still they can­not in­flu­ence the judge’s de­ci­sion or the rul­ing,” said Mon­t­jane.

“Whether the clothes show de­meanour of the wit­ness or per­son stand­ing trial, I have not seen cases were clothes were used as a mit­i­ga­tion of a sen­tence,” he added.

Omo­toso’s case will re­sume on Tues­day.

/Pho­tos/ Eu­gene Coet­zee and Werner Hills

Rape ac­cused Nige­rian pas­tor Ti­mothy Omo­toso has caused a storm on so­cial me­dia for the out­landish out­fits he wears in court dur­ing his trial in Port Eliz­a­beth.

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