A civil rights movement in South Africa that said Prophet Shepherd Bushiri had turned his Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) into a big bedroom for sexual orgies has returned with its verdict.
In February this year, a movement of activists against women abuse called #NotInMyName said it had been approached by several women accusing Prophet Bushiri and several ECG church elders of sexual abuse and harassment.
It alleged that the flamboyant prophet was grooming and sexually abusing young women in return for ‘miracle money’.
While demanding Bushiri to “come clean, and reform”, the organisation also threatened to hold protests against the controversial prophet that would make the #BushiriMustFall protests against the Malawian televangelist following the death of congregants last December “look like a Sunday kindergarten outing”.
In response to their demand, Prophet Bushiri called on the group to independently investigate him and the church in a bid to authenticate their allegations.
Following their investigation, Not In My Name has returned with a verdict of ‘not guilt’ having failed to “authenticate” the allegations against Bushiri.
“With maximum cooperation from the ECG leader Shepherd Bushiri and the whistleblowers within the church who made the initial claims, #NotInMyName closely examined the allegations made. From our side, #NotInMyName could not authenticate the claims made against the preacher,” the movement’s secretary-general Themba Masango has been quoted as saying by Africa News Agency.
Instead, the movement says it found widespread attempts to blackmail the self-proclaimed man of God who is arguably one of Africa’s most followed prophets.
“What was unearthed in our intense investigation were widespread attempts to blackmail Bushiri by several people within his church, community leaders, law enforcement officers and leading political parties.
“The engagements between #NotInMyName and the ECG are understandably still ongoing, as the church comprises of thousands of members whose actions can be traced back to the name and image of the church.”
Despite the findings, the movement says it continue to monitor the charismatic preacher.
“One will remember that after the allegations were brought to light, #NotInMyName led the charge in expressing disgust and shock – vowing to scrutinize the veracity of the claims. In February, #NotInMyName took an immediate radical stance, warning the ECG leader that if the claims were true, strong, decisive action – including closing down the church – would be imminent,” said Masango.
“In reaction to the #NotInMyName stance, it will also be remembered that Bushiri himself publicly opened his doors, and that of the ECG, inviting emissaries from the civil rights movement to closely probe him and his church leaders. As part of that process, investigative meetings and interactions were held with the ECG leadership, particularly Bushiri himself.”
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri is currently facing money laundering and fraud charges together with his wife. The couple is expected to appear in court on Friday this week.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) is also investigating a case of defeating the ends of justice against the church following the death of three congregants in a reported stampede where at least 17 people were left battling for their lives in December.
In the aftermath of the accident, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) led protests at the ECG, with community members calling for the church leader to be deported from South Africa and his ECG shut down in South African.