Prophet Shepherd Bushiri says the postponement of his money laundering and fraud trial to October this year is “unfair”.
Together with his alleged partner-in-crime and wife, Mary Bushiri, the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader says he was ready for the trial.
Major 1 as he is commonly called by his followers was arrested together with his wife on 1 February on money laundering and fraud charges involving more than R15 million (over K670 million).
The couple also faces accusations of contravening South Africa’s exchange control regulations for paying about R19 million (K850 million) for a private jet that was seized by the state soon after the couple’s arrest.
The North Gauteng regional spokesperson for the director of public prosecutions, Lumka Mahanjana, told reporters that the matter has now been “postponed to 16 October 2020 for trial conference”.
Writing on his official Facebook page after appearing before the Pretoria High Court, Major 1 said he was disappointed with the trial’s adjournment. He hit at the prosecutors for their lack of preparedness for the trial.
“We are disappointed that the Judge has granted a postponement for the State to get their house in order” said Major 1.
Malawi24 understands that the State wanted the case to be shifted to next year, citing the threat posed by Covid-19 which forced witnesses not to show up for the trial. However, Bushiri opposed the request saying it was a baseless excuse.
“The prosecutors applied for the court to postpone the trial till next year July, because their 29 witnesses refused to come to court because of Covid-19.
“My wife and I, together with our lawyers, took the risk inspite of Covid-19 and attended court. How is Covid-19 dangerous to the witnesses and not for my wife and I?” he asked.
The controversial prophet who has also brushed with the law in Malawi said the adjournment was unfair.
“I feel this is unfair, seeing my lawyers were ready to proceed with the trial. We remain ready for the trial” lamented Major 1.
Several people, including Bushiri’s spiritual father, Prophet Urbert Angel, stood in solidarity with Bushiri.