A new judge will preside in the rape trial of Nigerian pastor Timothy Omotoso, who allegedly raped 30 young girls and women at a mansion in uMhlanga in Durban and elsewhere.

The Judge President in the Eastern Cape has not announced the name of the judge who will take over from Judge Mandela Makaula, who recused himself on Tuesday.

The surprise development by the judge came after he had a meeting with Omotoso’s lawyer, Peter Daubermann, and the state advocate, Nceba Ntelwa, in his chambers. He had previously dismissed an application for him to be recused, which forced Daubermann to petition the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The Supreme Court of Appeal also dismissed it and stated that there were prospects of success.

The accused subsequently instructed Daubermann to petition the Constitutional Court to have the judge removed from the case, but in view of Judge Makuala’s U-turn that petition has been abandoned.

The SABC on Tuesday claimed in its news bulletins that Judge Makuala apparently owned shares in the complex which had accommodated witnesses under the witness protection programme, who are still to testify at the trial. The accused and his alleged accomplices -Lusanda Sulani and Zukiswa Sitho, are accused of recruiting girls from throughout the country for purposes of sexual exploitation.

They claimed that the judge was biased and sympathetic towards the state’s first witness, Cheryl Zondi. Zondi testified that Omotoso had apparently repeatedly raped her at his plush home in uMhlanga in Durban when she was about 14-years-old.

Omotoso is facing a plethora of charges. It includes multiple rapes, sexual assault and human trafficking.