Legal exposé: Why Bushiri extradition to South Africa will hit a blank wall

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary Bushiri

In this article, Elliot Kamangira, a student of law, argues that Prophet Bushiri’s case isn’t going anywhere, even when it returns to court this October 10th, because that courts already ruled that the evidence South Africa brought in court is inadmissible.

First, who is Prophet Bushiri at a glance? Prophet Shepherd Bushiri is no ordinary Malawian citizen—a ranking and respected citizen among his fellow countrymen and women. When disaster strike like it was Cyclone Freddy, Bushiri was among a select few citizens who went above and beyond in supporting the government to alleviate the suffering of Malawians affected by the tragedy.

When government was seeking helicopter assistance from neighboring countries such as Tanzania and Zambia, Bushiri literally hired his own helicopter and adopted camps in Mulanje to concentrate his efforts in trying to bring back normalcy to people who were affected by the devastating Cyclone Freddy.

This is just one of the numerous heroic moves accredited to Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s name.

Now folks, forget about the above background for it is not justifying why South Africa’s attempts to extradite Bushiri is but an exercise in futility.

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Wife Mary Bushiri Walking Through a Crowd of People
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary Bushiri, a couple who are loved and respected by many.

The above is not a justification, because courts do not work on emotions or feelings. It is a court of law not emotions and as we also know, Malawian courts are fiercely independent. Therefore, let us have recourse to the law to justify why extraditing Bushiri will likely hit a snag.

The core of our argument revolves around the content of Section 13 in the Extradition Act, as outlined in Chapter 8:03 of Malawi’s legal statutes. This particular section pertains to the criteria governing the admissibility of evidence in the Court’s proceedings for extradition. This section states:

“In any proceedings under this Act, including proceedings for the issue of directions in the nature of habeas corpus in respect of a fugitive offender in custody thereunder—(a)a document, duly authenticated, which purports to set out evidence given on oath in a designated country shall be admissible as evidence of the matters stated therein; (b) a document, duly authenticated which purports to have been received in evidence, or to be a copy of a document so received, in any proceeding in a designated country shall be admissible in evidence.

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Wife Mary Bushiri: A Couple Deeply in Love
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary Bushiri are deeply in love and cherish their marriage.

The section proceeds to state that “A document shall be deemed to be duly authenticated for the purposes of this section—(a) in the case of a document purporting to set out evidence given as aforesaid, if the document purports to be certified by a judge, or magistrate or officer in or of the designated country concerned to be the original document containing or recording that evidence or a true copy of such a document;(b) in the case of a document which purports to have been received in evidence as aforesaid or to be a copy of document so received, if the document purports to be certified as aforesaid to have been, or to be a true copy of a document which has been, so received.”

Now the documents from South Africa are not authenticated in line with the above section. What it means is that these documents will not be admissible in court. This is why the Magistrate Court in Lilongwe recently ruled that those documents, though they are not yet tendered in court, will not be admissible, if the state presents them in court as evidence.

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Wife Mary Bushiri Walking
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary Bushiri have walked together through thick and thin

This is a big win for Bushiri and it is just a matter of time that this case, which is having no legs to stand on the part of South Africa, is dismissed.

By the way, did you hear EFF leader Julius Malemia lamenting about the incompetence of members of the judiciary in South Africa. If you didn’t, Malemia called a spade a spade a Magistrate of that country who has never been on time for the past five years. Malemia, vetning his anger in a court room, said the conduct of this magistrate was disrespectful and unprofessional with no Journalist in South Africa writing about it and indeed the Judicial commission of South Africa disciplining her.

The implications drawn from the Malemia episode is that the judicial system in South Africa is so porous so much so that it can easily throw people like Bushiri under the bus because of its lack of seriousness. This is not to say all members of the judiciary therein are compromised but when you see how they treat their own citizens there of Julius Malemia’s caliber, how about a foreigner? Surely they can treat such a person with complete contempt.

Fortunately, in Bushiri’s case, he is in Malawi, a country known for upholding the rule of law. This is why one can confidently predict that Bushiri’s extradition case will ultimately conclude with Bushiri smiling all the way to the pulpit.