Fugitive prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his alleged partner-in-crime and wife, Mary Bushiri, have escaped arrest in Malawi. The prophet has confirmed the news.
Bushiri, widely known as Major 1, revealed in a statement that there is an eminent arrest looming over his head and that of his wife, Mary. However, no detail has been revealed as to why the couple is wanted before hearing of their extradition commences in 2 weeks time.
Bushiri confirmed through his spokesperson that a warrant has been issued of his arrest.
“I can confirm [that the] Malawi Police issued a warrant of arrest for Prophet Bushiri and Prophetess Mary Bushiri. I still don’t have the grounds for the warrant” said his spokesperson, Ephraim Nyondo, in a statement released yesterday.
He further revealed that Major 1 escaped his arrest through an injunction timely obtained early on Sunday just before the Police stormed the prophet’s premises to effect an arrest.
“On the morning of Sunday, Malawi Police stormed one of Prophet Bushiri’s premises to effect the warrant of arrest—a move which his lawyers challenged through a court injunction”, reveals the 371-word-statement.
The warrant of arrest for Bushiri and his wife Mary came hours after his daughters were barred at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) from leaving the country.
Bushiri claims his daughters who were the first to leave South Africa before the prophet and his alleged partner-in-crime Mary Bushiri escaped to Malawi last November was heading to Kenya for medical attention.
Bushiri’s spokesperson says the daughter (Israella), 8 years of age was travelling with three guardians.
“She was accompanied by three guardians. Prophet Bushiri and Prophetess Bushiri were not part of the delegation. The daughter, 8, was duly referred by competent Malawi medical professionals to seek further medical treatment and all required immigration details were in place to facilitate her travel through a chartered air ambulance.”
The daughters, Raphaella and Israella, were stopped together with Mary Bushiri’s mother, Magdalena Zgambo and another family member, Esther Bushiri. This is according to a passenger manifest form seen by seen by some local reporters.
The two fugitives were reportedly not with them, neither were the two included on the passenger manifest.
Prophet Bushiri is wanted together with his wife by the South African government to answer fraud, money laundering and corruption charges. They maintain their innocence.
But 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 his official maiden visit was detained for more than seven hours by South Africa authorities when it was discovered that the couple was missing on the radar. It was suspected that they were smuggled by President Lazarus Chakwera.
“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. Nonetheless investigative reports established that the couple’s children were the first to leave the Rainbow nation and that they flew through OR Tambo airport with some family members.
Bushiri claims he left South Africa together with his wife as a matter of strategy.
In Malawi, the couple is currently fighting extradition after a formal request was made by the South African government to Malawi.
Hearing of their extradition will start in 2 weeks time, on 6 March, 2021 while the High Court has set 8th March as a date for an inter-parte hearing on the restraining order obtained on Sunday which bars the police “from effecting an arrest on the Claimants, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Mary Bushiri until a further order of th[e] Court”.
The injunction was filed by lawyer Wapona Kita.
The injunction obtained by Bushiri is similar to a restraining order that Norman Chisale had applied to the High Court to stop the Malawi police from arresting him.
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.
It remains unknown if the warrant of arrest relates to the couple’s extradition.