Prophet Shepherd Bushiri has been accused of paying his side chick K80 thousand to have an abortion after making her pregnant only for the cheque to bounce.
The woman’s family members say they are now ready to expose the man who they say “hides behind the pulpit” and have challenged the controversial prophet to a paternity test.
“As a family, we are challenging Bushiri to do a paternity test publicly because we are confident he is the father. The daughter is the spitting image of Bushiri and it is widely known in the district that he is the biological father,” one family member has said.
The mother was reportedly “just a teenager” when the relationship with the self-proclaimed prophet started. According to media reports in South Africa, Bushiri has privately admitted that the now 7-year old young girl is his. He has however denied publicly being the responsible person.
“The mother feels it is time for Bushiri to take responsibility and do what is right.”
The damaging story has been written by City Press’ Ntombizodwa Makhoba who claims Bushiri’s henchmen had her arrested when she came to Malawi to carry out her investigations.
The relatives of the woman, who is now married, say the child is now being teased by his peers at school.
“For the sake of the baby, we have decided to speak out. The child is grown now, and she is aware that her father is none other than Major 1 [a name Bushiri is called by his congregants]. She once come back from school and told her mother that her schoolmates were teasing her for being the spitting image of Major 1.” said one relative.
The relative said the child should be supported by her biological father.
“The mother doesn’t care about Bushiri’s wealth. When she met him, he was young and poor. Her concern is that Bushiri should support the child emotionally and financially. She also wants her daughter to attend the best schools, just like her father’s other children,” the family member said.
Bushiri and the woman are said to have met in 2007 in Mzimba in Malawi. After the woman fell pregnant in 2010, her family took the up-and-coming pastor to court to compel him to pay damages. They were however threatened by his followers.
“It was a very difficult time for us to fight against an influential and powerful person,” one relative said. “We could not afford to hire an expensive lawyer, but we had to do what was right for the child.”
In Court, the family presented in court the K80 thousand cheque that Bushiri had issued her so she could have an abortion. However, Bushiri claimed he had not written the cheque and that it had been stolen from him.
The family alleges that Bushiri used his influence and got a police officer to testify that, on the day the woman claimed he made her pregnant, Bushiri was at the police station with the officer dealing with an attempted hijacking.
However, no evidence could be presented of Bushiri’s claims, the family alleges, and the police issued a statement distancing themselves from the testimony. Bushiri, the family says, managed to apply for a judicial review of the case and it ground to a halt.
At the time, he told reporters: “I am not worried about negative publicity. They are advertising my ministry and Satan is paying my bills.”
After the baby was born in 2011 – the same year Bushiri married his current wife Mary – he returned to the woman’s family to make amends, but on terms they found unacceptable.’
“He told us: ‘I am not refusing to be the father, but people must not know that the child is mine because it will destroy my ministry.’”
Another family member said: “When the child was born, Bushiri kept saying that he would be supporting the child financially, to which the family asked him say so publicly since he had publicly denied impregnating our sister.”
The woman is still trying to find justice through the courts, but every time she goes there, she is told files are missing, the case cannot be traced or clerks blame the computer system.
“These excuses make us believe money has changed hands within the system,” said a relative while pleading for child protection organisations to intervene.
But when approached through WhatsApp for a comment on this story, Bushiri’s Communications Director, Ephraim Nyondo, gave Malawi24 a cold shoulder despite reading our text.
Whereas his lawyer, Terrence Baloyi, did not respond to City Press’ emails, text messages and calls seeking comment.