Controversial Malawian pastor Shepherd Bushiri and his armed bodyguards had a three-hour standoff with South African Police this week, which ended with the officers fleeing.
The dramatic scene unfolded at the Sheraton Hotel in Pretoria where Prophet Bushiri stays.
Police had tried to obtain a statement from Bushiri, who is being investigated in connection with cases of intimidation, assault and death threats.
According to News24, Bushiri is alleged to have assaulted one Martin Antonio on three occasions between March and July after Antonio opened a case against the clergyman at the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities during its investigation into churches.
He accused Bushiri of allegedly destroying his marriage following his false prophecy.
Antonio said he lost his wife after Bushiri told her that Antonio’s mother had bewitched and cursed her not to have children.
“Bushiri sent his bodyguards to follow me everywhere I went. They swore at me, assaulted me and threatened to kill me.
“He wanted me to withdraw my case at the commission and the police station,” Antonio said, adding that hotel staff and guests had witnessed the incident. He vowed not to withdraw the case.
Malawi-born Bushiri is the head of Enlightened Christian Gathering, a Pretoria-based church that has thousands of followers throughout southern Africa.
He claims that he can “walk on air, make the ‘lame’ walk and cure HIV/Aids” and other diseases.
City Press witnessed Bushiri’s bodyguards refusing to grant police access to him.
Instead, Bushiri barked orders at the police telling them he “needs a report” before he could comply, referring to a search warrant or a subpoena.
The police tried to reason with Bushiri asking to be allowed to do their work because the complainant had laid charges against him.
In a bid to avoid controversy, police backed off.
“We were outnumbered by Bushiri’s bodyguards,” a police officer told City Press, adding that the pastor has “powerful connections”.