AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
A week after they skipped bail and fled South Africa self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary are now in custody in Malawian and are expected to appear in court soon.
Malawian Police have confirmed that Bushiri and his wife handed themselves over to the law enforcement agencies. In a statement, the police said they had been looking for the Bushiris with an intention to arrest them on the strength of a warrant of arrest which was issued on Tuesday by the Pretoria Magistrates Court.
This development came a day after the Pretoria High Court issued a second set of warrants of arrests against them. According to the Hawks, the elite detective unit that arrested the pair, the warrants were issued on Tuesday in a move that has triggered extradition proceedings for the two fugitives. These are the second pair of warrants issued for the fugitive couple.
The Bushiris have also had their bail of R400 000 revoked by the Pretoria Magistrates Court and faced losing their multi-million property in Centurion. They are on trial with three other accused where they face fraud and money laundering charges in connection with a R20-million ponzi scheme.
The South African government was forced to issue an assurance that the Bushiris were not smuggled out of South Africa by the President of Malawi who left the country on the same day the couple fled.
There were suggestions on social media that Bushiri was smuggled as part of the delegation that accompanied Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera on a working visit to SA. This was heightened by reports that Chakwera’s delegation was delayed before departure, because of “immigration issues” with some members of the delegation.
South African government spokesperson Phumla Williams said the state was, after investigations, able to confirm that the Bushiris did not leave SA with Chakwera or his delegation.
Williams also confirmed that SA has started a process, in terms of the Southern African Development Community Protocol on Extradition and other legal instruments, to extradite the couple from Malawi.
She said while the process was underway, law-enforcement agencies would continue investigations into the matter.
The treatment of the President of Malawi and his delegation led to a letter of protest from Lilongwe. In a statement, the Chakwera’s government expressed unhappiness at the manner in which he and the delegation was treated by South African law enforcement agencies.
In a social media post from Malawi, Bushiri claims that he had fled South Africa because they feared for their lives. He has also claimed that the couple would never get a fair trial in South Africa. Bushiri said a presentation by South African Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, on the case, was proof that they would not get a fair trial in SA.
Bushir said: “In his preliminary report, the Minister took the Committee through the process that his department employs to keep track of movement of the people entering and leaving of South Africa. He also went into the process that is followed within his department when permits are issued.
“Unfortunately, during the said briefing, the Minister went into the merits of our pending criminal trial as well as the existing internal processes within his ministry in which he is the appeals authority. This is one of the processes that my wife and I should follow during the process that has been interdicted by the High Court in South Africa, which the Minister also indicated that he was disappointed when our rights were protected by the Court.
“The Minister further went on to state that our Permanent Residence permits are irregular and therefore our stay in South Africa is unlawful because (1) My wife and I misrepresented facts to induce his department to issue the permits and (2) his department issued incorrect permits to us due to their oversight. Therefore, his department has decided to revoke our permits.
“This is but one of the many injustices that I feared would befall me and my wife. This internal process is already prejudged by the Minister before I submit my representations on why our permits should not be revoked because we did nothing wrong.
“The Minister went on to state that my wife and I hold five different passports each. The impression is that these are passports with different names and details. Once again, this issue is before the High Court in South Africa. This statement by the Minister further strengthen my fear that I will not get a fair trial in South Africa.
“For the record, my wife and have 5 passports each, one of which is a diplomatic passport and one is a normal passport. we submitted all these passports to the Investigating Officer in South Africa. Because we are frequent travelers due to the work of our ministry, the other passports are full, however, they have international visas and hence we kept them. There is nothing sinister about that. Even the Immigration Department in Malawi has attested to that.”