AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
SHEPHERD Bushiri, one of Africa’s influential and rich religious leaders and his wife are in police custody after they were arrested by the South African law enforcement authorities in connection with a R102-million fraud and money laundering case.
Bushiri, head of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) and his wife Mary are expected to appear in court on Friday, where they are expected to apply for bail.
Bushiri’s wife was arrested at their Sandton home while Bushiri, who was suspected of attempting to evade arrest, handed himself over at the Silverton Police Station in Pretoria.
The arrest of the Bushiris follows the arraignment on Saturday of another couple – Willah and Zethu Mudolo – in connection with the same case. The Mudolos have appeared in court and their case was postponed to October 30,where they are expected to apply for a bail.
Bushiri’s church has claimed that the Hawks, South Africa’s elite serious crimes investigations unit, arrested him and his wife before a scheduled appointment.
“The Hawks informed lawyers of our leaders, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Prophetess Mary Bushiri, late Monday afternoon that they (Hawks) are requesting the couple to go to their offices by 11am (on Tuesday) accompanied by their lawyers to discuss an issue concerning a certain investment, pertaining to a certain company called Rising Estate. We are told that as the prophet and lawyers were getting prepared for the 11am appointment, the Hawks went to their house before the 11am appointment and arrested the prophet’s wife alone,” the ECG said in a statement.
The church said Bushiri had confidence in the South African justice system and would abide by the law.
This is not the Bushiris’ first brush with the law. In a separate matter, the couple was arrested on February 1 and recently appeared in court, where they are charged with fraud and money laundering involving R15-million. The trial on this matter is expected to run from May 31 and June 18.
The leader of the ECG church and his wife were at the time released on R100,000 bail each by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. Their case was transferred to the high court.
The couple are also accused of contravening South Africa’s exchange control regulations by paying about R19 million for a private jet.