South Africa changes tune on Bushiri witnesses: Wants High Court to remove witnesses in the case

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri Major 1 Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader

In a surprising twist to the Prophet Shepherd Bushiri extradition case, the State has applied to the High Court to review the 29th March ruling by Senior Magistrate Patrick Chirwa to have South Africa witnesses appear in Malawi court to be cross-examined.

Lawyer for Bushiri, Wapona Kita has confirmed with Malawi24 to have been served with the order from the High Court calling for the file from the magistrate court for review of the order on physical attendance of witnesses in Malawi.

“I have not yet been served with any grounds for the review so I can’t comment much. We will just have to wait as we are now on the receiving end,” he said.

The move has come as a surprise to many because the State had earlier complied with the said ruling, to a point where the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Steve Kayuni told court that South Africa was ready with the trial and the witnesses will be paraded in Malawi.

However, despite the assurance, the public was thrown into a great shock when Kayuni, while admitting South Africa’s readiness with case in court, asked the court to allow witnesses testify through video conference not physically available in Malawi courts.

Magistrate Chirwa dismissed Kayuni’s application, saying it lacked legal basis and, further, gave the State six weeks to bring South Africa witnesses to Malawi to be cross-examined.

“We are shocked that, just two weeks to set date of July 12 for the trial, the State has applied asking the High Court to review an old court decision which they had no issue with at first,” said Bushiri’s spokesperson Ephraim Nyondo.

Nyondo added that because these are matters in court, he won’t have anything much to comment on but just wait for the courts to give direction.

While in South Africa, Bushiri appeared before the courts for more than three occasions to be given trial, with each appearance being postponed because the State was not ready with the witnesses.

These twists and turns have prompted several people both in Malawi and South Africa to begin to question if, indeed, Bushiri’s case in South Africa was real or it is just another tool to persecute him.

“I have been following this case since he was arrested in 2019. The issue has always been witnesses not being available. Bushiri left for Malawi. The issue of unavailability of witnesses has resurfaced again. I am convinced now that there are no witnesses. They must just leave Bushiri alone,” said Tshepo Mokoena writing from Cape Town in South Africa.

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