The South African government has announced that it has initiated extradition process for the Malawi Government to hand over wanted fugitive, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, to face justice.
The Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church leader fondly called Major 1 jumped bail together with wife and his alleged partner-in-crime, Prophetess Mary Bushiri.
He claims to have left South Africa on Wednesday. However, one report alleged that Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera, who is a born again Christian, might have smuggled the controversial pastor.
The State House in Malawi described the allegations as fake news, a claim backed by the South African government in a statement that has been released this afternoon.
“Government is able to confirm that fugitives Mr Shepherd Bushiri and Ms Mary Bushiri did not leave South Africa aboard a flight on which [Malawi] President Lazarus and his delegation travelled”, reads part of the statement released by the South African government.
South Africa says it has now initiated the process to have the two fugitives who are wanted for fraud and money laundering extradited from Malawi.
“To ensure that the two fugitives face justice, South Africa has initiated the process to secure their extradition from Malawi in terms of the Southern Africa Development (SADC) Protocol on Extradition and other legal instruments, to which Malawi is a signatory”, continues the statement.
Prior to his escape, Bushiri was on bail for two different cases of fraud and money laundering about K6 billion.
He was first arrested in February 2019 for fraud, theft and money laundering about K0.8 billion. His second arrest came on 20 October together with his wife for fraud and money laundering about K5 billion.
Prior to his second arrest, the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa also accused Bushiri of immigration fraud relating to his permanent resident permit.
The department wanted to revoke the couple’s resident permits. The couple was temporarily rescued by the High Court which ordered the department to wait for the couple’s plea in the K5 fraud and money laundering case.
“[Bushiri] and his wife shall, once their plea to the charges has been noted in case number CC14/2020, be afforded a period of 30 days from date of the plea, within which to make any formal representations (if they so wish or are advised to do so) as envisaged in the Notice date 2 August 2020” reads part of the judgement delivered by Judge Brenda Neukircher SC.
Bushiri, who has been nicknamed Chisale in his home country Malawi after former President Peter Mutharika’s personal bodyguard Norman Chisale, was released on bail on the 4th of this month. The couple spent 14 nights in custody at the infamous Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Centre.
As part of his bail condition, he was barred from leaving South Africa by Magistrate Thandi Theledi who was presiding over the bail application by the controversial prophet who has previously faced rape accusations.
The flamboyant prophet was also barred from making any threatening statement against the witnesses and prosecutors; and from referring to the case during his church session.
But during his maiden press briefing after his ‘Great Escape’, Bushiri claimed that he is being persecuted because he is a rich black person. He thus demanded his prosecutors to recuse themselves from the case.
The State attorney had opposed Bushiri’s bail application saying he had heightened motivation to jump bail because the K5 billion fraud and money laundering case carries with it a longer prison sentence should he be convicted.
Bushiri has been demanding to know his alleged victims. However, the state has refused to reveal identities of the complainants citing the pattern in Bushiri’s case and fears of witness intimidation.
In its closing statement, the State refused to reveal identities of the said victims saying there is a pattern in all cases that are filled against Bushiri.
The State argued that each time Bushiri is taken to court and victims are revealed, the prophet allegedly intimidates or pays the victims a hefty sum of money in order to withdraw their cases against him as he continues to masquerade himself as an innocent person under persecution.
Eventually, the state argued, witnesses including those who have accused Major 1 of rape end up withdrawing their cases against the controversial Prophet.
The state said it feared this pattern being the case in the current case.
The state argued that if bailed, Bushiri would flee.
#Bushiri State fears that despite handing over their passports to the police, Bushiri and wife who have diplomatic passports can easily find a way to leave the country and claim to be diplomats at airports as has been the case before
— Malawi24 (@Malawi24) November 2, 2020
#Bushiri The State then concludes that the accused will have more reasons to evade trial now than it were for them in their 2019 case.
— Malawi24 (@Malawi24) November 2, 2020
During their bail application, Bushiri’s lawyers argued that the couple was was not a flight risk as argued by the State attorneys.
In her judgement, Magistrate Thandi Theledi warned Bushiri that his bail would be revoked if he were to attempt jumping bail.
Meanwhile, in his statement yesterday the controversial prophet said he will only return to South Africa if assured that his bail would not be revoked. He revealed that he will be meeting the Malawian government this coming week to seek intervention in his trials.
The Malawi government is yet to confirm if it will extradite Bushiri to South Africa if requested by the Rainbow nation. The two countries do enjoy extradition conditions. The most recent was the case of murderer Misozi Chanthunya who was extradited from South Africa where he had been in hiding.
The thriller continues.
The South African government has announced that it has initiated extradition process for the Malawi Government to hand over wanted fugitive, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, to face justice. Full story at: https://t.co/w5VAFn9cPi https://t.co/WTWz4VUDgM
— Malawi24 (@Malawi24) November 15, 2020