The Malawi High Court in Lilongwe has today granted an injunction restraining the Malawi police from arresting fugitive Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his alleged partner-in-crime wife Mary Bushiri from being arrested on all matters.
Filed by lawyer Wapona Kita, the restraining order stops and restrains the Director of Public Prosecution and Inspector General of Malawi Police who are first and second defendant respectively “from effecting an arrest on the Claimants, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Mary Bushiri until a further order of th[e] Court”.
The injunction obtained by Bushiri is similar to a restraining order that Norman Chisale had applied to be granted against the Malawi police after a shower of arrests.
Unfortunately for Chisale, both the High Court and Supreme Court of Appeal had denied his application with a warning that the application amounted to an abuse of the court process by former Malawi president Peter Mutharika’s security aide, Norman Chisale.
High Court judge Charles Mkandawire threw out the application on July 31 on lack of merit.
But after an appeal with the Supreme Court, Justice Lovemore Chikopa said he doubted that any court can grant such an injunction as it “would prevent law enforcement from even engaging in such consideration. They would effectively never arrest/prosecute even in the face of good enough reason”.
“It is too general/wide and is clearly equal to an unnecessary interference in law enforcement police work.
“Whether or not to arrest or prosecute is a decision which law enforcement including the police make after due consideration. Granting the injunction sought by the Applicant [Chisale] would prevent law enforcement from even engaging in such consideration. They would effectively never arrest/prosecute even in the face of good enough reason.”
In his judgement, Justice Chikopa argued that Malawian laws have an inbuilt protective mechanism against instances, potential or actual of the abuse of the powers of arrest for someone to go to the extent of obtaining an injunction like what Bushiri has done today.
“It specifically lays out how and when an arrest can/should be made. In either case we think it better, unless the situation leaves us with no other choice, to deal with alleged abuses after the arrest than to order the police not to arrest at all,” ruled Justice Chikopa.
Chisale applied for the injunction after being arrested three times.
Bushiri is currently fighting his extradition to South Africa where he is wanted together with his wife Mary Bushiri to answer fraud, money laundering and corruption related charges.
The couple escaped from South Africa soon after being granted bail. Their escape caused a diplomatic glitch between South Africa and Malawi following allegations that the Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera had helped the controversial prophet to escape.
The Malawian president who was in South Africa on official business then was detained for more than seven hours by South Africa authorities when it was discovered that the couple were missing on the radar.
“Fugitive prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, were issued with diplomatic passports bearing decoy names and applied with cosmetic facial changes before being smuggled out of South Africa in Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera’s hired jet” reported the Sunday Independent.
The Malawi government denied any involvement in the couple’s escape.
Bushiri and his wife maintain their innocence, arguing that they left South Africa as a matter of strategy.
Yesterday, his family members were stopped from leaving the country, allegedly for Kenya. The Bushiri were stopped at Kamuzu International Airport by the Malawi police.
Those stopped were daughters, Raphaella and Israella, Mary Bushiri’s mother, Magdalena Zgambo and another family member, Esther Bushiri. Neither of the wanted fugifitive was with them.
But investigative reports in South Africa established that the daughter were the first to leave the Rainbow nation and that they flew through OR Tambo airport with some family members before the couple jumped bail.
It is not yet known whether the Malawi Police and Directorate of Public Prosecution will appeal against today’s injunction. Meanwhile, an inter-parte hearing on whether to continue with the injunction has been set for 8th March next month, just two days after hearing on the couple’s extradition which is slated for 6 March.