Malawian self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary, who are wanted by the South African government to answer charges including fraud and money laundering will be brought back to Pretoria at the end of the ongoing extradition court process.
The remarks were made by Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola who told broadcaster Newzroom Afrika on Friday that the Malawian authorities have been fair in the handling of the extradition process.
“What we can assure South Africans is that we will follow the matter through up until the highest court of Malawi, and we remain confident that our request is in compliance with the Extradition Act of Malawi,” said Lamola.
“In line with the advice that we are receiving, and the good cooperation we are receiving from the authorities of Malawi, we are able to submit and comply with their laws hence we have scored significant victories in the courts, where we also won and succeeded in their courts of appeal.
“We will follow through the matter up unit the end. We believe in the end, they will definitely come back to our country to account for the matters that the authorities here, the National Prosecuting Authority and the SAPS want them to account for, in South Africa,” the minister said.
South African officials have been to Malawi on different occasions in the past, and another delegation will be heading to Malawi next month to take part in the extradition hearings.
“On the 10th of October we believe that the matter should be able to proceed and the NPA and the investigating officers of the matter will be called upon to the stand to testify, barring any further points in Limine (a process that addresses technical legal points, raised prior to getting into the merits of the case) that are being raised to obfuscate and to delay the matter by the Bushiris,” said Lamola.
The Bushiris are vigorously opposing the legal bid by the South African government to bring them back to Pretoria.
The Bushiris fled SA in November 2020. The couple faces charges of theft, fraud and money laundering. Bushiri has also been charged for rape. At the time of their escape, the couple were out on bail.
They were each released on R200,000 bail by the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on November 4, 2020, after their arrest in October that year.
The story of Bushiri’s “great escape” from South Africa still features in public discourse and social media trends.
In scenes fit for a James Bond classic, Bushiri’s escape coincided with a visit to Pretoria by Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera. In the absence of official government remarks on how and when the Bushiris left South Africa, the rumour mill went into overdrive, with various theories on how the wealthy and connected Bushiris left South Africa.
Vocally criticised by many people in South Africa, particularly on social media, Bushiri commands unparalleled praise and adoration from his legion of equally vocal followers.