Controversial millionaire preacher and the founder of Enlightened Christian Gathering church, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary have fled to his native country Malawi from South Africa, in contravention of their bail conditions.
The two are accused, along with three others, in a fraud and money laundering case worth R102 million. They were recently granted R200 000 bail in the Pretoria Central Magistrate’s Court.
In terms of their bail conditions, the Bushiris are barred from travelling anywhere in South Africa, except within the Gauteng and North West provinces.
Their travel documents were handed to the investigating officer. They are also barred from applying for any travel documents while this case is still pending in court.
In a statement on Facebook, Bushiri confirmed that he and his wife were “temporarily in [their] home country, Malawi, because of safety and security issues since 2015, matters that got worse when we just got out on bail”.
The statement read;
PROPHET BUSHIRI’S STATEMENT ON HIS ARRIVAL IN MALAWI
I would like to inform the general public that my wife, Mary, and I are temporarily in our home country, Malawi, because of safety and security issues since 2015. These matters have gotten worse after we just got both our bails.
There have been clear and evident attempts to have myself, my wife and my family killed and despite our several attempts to report to authorities, there has never been State protection.
Our coming to Malawi, hence, is a tactical withdrawal from the Republic of South Africa solely meant to preserve our lives.
These attempts have been heightened with recent spates of arrests and detentions that we felt the only way for us to clear our names before the law is to ensure that our lives are preserved. My wife and I strongly believe in our innocence but this cannot be proved if our lives are not preserved. We have to be alive to testify to our innocence.
As we stand here, we were arrested in 2019 on alleged money laundering charges and it’s getting to two years now without trial because the State is not ready to give it.
As we keep waiting for that trial to come, we were arrested again, kept in custody for over two weeks and we are not sure if we will face trial. Equally shocking is the fact that as we kept waiting to get the facts of the recent arrest, the State brought up immigration issues that they, not us, owe the public an explanation. But they want us to explain.
Against this background, we have come to a painful conclusion that what my wife and I have faced in the Republic of South Africa, since 2015, is purely persecution NOT prosecution.
What is shocking is that it was me who, in 2018, opened cases of extortion and intimidation against the officers who are, today, investigating, arresting and prosecuting me and my wife of these several allegations.
Obviously, there can never be independence and impartiality. It’s purely acts of open vengeance. This, I must say, clearly violates rules of natural justice which says justice must not just be done but be seen to be done.
As such, I want to make it clear, here, that our coming to Malawi is not an act of running away from being tried. Not at all.
All my wife and I want is to clear our names in a justice system that is fair, impartial and just. In this vein, I am calling for the following to be met by the Republic of South African authorities to ensure our fair, impartial and just trial.
1. First, I want the South African government to assure us of our safety and security whilst in South Africa.
2. Secondly, I want the South African government to assure us that our bail will not be revoked. Our right to fair trial entails that we have access to our lawyers all the time. Revocation of the bail defeats our right to a fair trial and also exposes us to further security and safety challenges.
3. Thirdly, I want the officers involved in investigating, arresting and prosecuting us to recuse themselves. As earlier said, this is the same team that I earlier lodged a complaint against and, also, opened cases against. I won’t have a fair trial with their continued involvement.
4. Fourthly, I want the South African State to see to it that all the issues I lodged and opened against these officers must be pursued to their logical conclusion before proceeding with our case.
5. Finally, I want the South African State to appoint independent and professional investigators and prosecutors who should make independent decisions on the cases we are allegedly accused of.
In this regard, I am requesting the Malawi government to liaise with the South African government to ensure that the above issues are met.
Once these five issues are met and I am assured of a fair, just and impartial trial, I am willing to avail myself before the South Africa justice system.
I am looking forward to that day because my wife and I have long waited for it to prove our innocence and clear our names.
I will hold a press briefing in Lilongwe, Malawi, and it will be aired on all media networks across the world soon.
Aljazeera reported that there are allegations of Bushiri fleeing South Africa with Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera, who was on a two-day official visit to South Africa and returned on Saturday. Chakwera’s spokesman, Brian Banda has however debunked the claim.
“The allegation that Prophet Shepherd Bushiri came on the same flight with the president is false.”