The Hawks have dismissed accusations of holding a personal vendetta against Prophet Shepherd Bushiri who is facing alleged fraud and money laundering charges in South Africa.
The arrest of self proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary were arrested on Friday for alleged fraud and money laundering.
Following their arrest, Bushiri’s followers at his Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church accused South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) of having a personal vendetta against the Malawian born church leader and business magnet.
The Black First Land First (BLF) party led by Andile Mngxitama also alleged that the arrest is a ploy to shut down his highly popular ministry.
“At the same time, the sins of the clergy including sexual offences, fraud, corruption and money laundering in white churches go unpunished,” BLF deputy president Zanele Lwana said.
“BLF has opened multiple cases with the SAPS which are high profile against white offenders involving similar allegations to that of Bushiri – of fraud, corruption and money laundering.”
“None of the perpetrators have been arrested and/or interrogated by the Hawks. BLF believes that this is because the prevailing white power structure allows whites to act criminally with impunity. Blacks on the other hand are guilty without any proven prior transgression,” Lwana added.
However, the Hawks dismissed the accusations as baseless saying the elite South African Police Service department does not have an axe to grind.
“We are here to work and that is our duty. We don’t look at who we are investigating and the state of the person. If you start doing that‚ you are making a mistake.” Hawks’ spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi told the media on Monday
“The Hawks’ case against the pair concerns alleged offences of fraud‚ money laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA).
“The crimes were committed from 2015 in relation to exchange control regulations related to foreign currency in an amount of $1‚147‚200 (Over K800 million]‚” said Mulaudzi after their arrest.
The arrest of Bushiri and his wife comes in the wake the stampede at his Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church during a service on December 28 which killed three women and injured at least 17 other congregants.
Meanwhile, Bushiri and his wife are expected to appear in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court for bail hearing this morning.
The couple has since hired one of South Africa’s expensive criminal attorneys, Barry Loux, to defend them. According to published reports, the lawyer charges close to K3 million a day for his services.