Bushiri must come clean on how he skipped South Africa, says DA
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Pretoria – The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday called on Interpol and the South African and Malawian authorities to facilitate a smooth extradition process for the self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, who are wanted by courts in Pretoria.
The DA’s statement followed reports on Wednesday confirming that the Bushiris had handed themselves over to Malawian police after leaving South Africa last week in breach of their different bail conditions.
“As a member of Interpol, Malawian police authorities now have an obligation to hand the two fugitives over to the international agency and South African authorities. The Bushiris face serious charges of fraud, theft, and money laundering to the value of R102 million and should now be returned to South Africa to stand trial for these allegations,” said member of Parliament Angel Khanyile, the DA’s spokesperson on home affairs.
“In addition to these charges, the Bushiris will also have to come clean on how they skipped South Africa undetected and evaded law-enforcement officials. The Bushiris’ escape has highlighted the poor state of our nation’s border management systems and how vulnerable it is to corruption.”
Khanyile said “urgent action” must be taken by the Department of Home Affairs “and all relevant departments need to pull up their socks and tighten border security and border management systems”.
The North Gauteng High Court, situated in Pretoria, has issued second warrants for the arrest of the Bushiris.
The second warrants of arrest pertain to the fraud and money-laundering case on which the couple were released on R100 000 bail each by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court last year.
Last month, the famous couple appeared in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, where their trial was postponed until next year.
The couple are set to be tried from May 31 to June 18 on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to more than R15 million. This follows their arrest on February 1 last year by the Hawks.
The leader of the ECG church and his wife were at the time released on R100 000 bail each by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. Their case was transferred to the high court.
The couple are also accused of contravening South Africa’s exchange control regulations by paying about R19 million for a 1984 Gulfstream jet in cash.
The Hawks’ case against the pair concerns alleged offences of fraud‚ money laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA).
“The high court issued the warrants yesterday, Tuesday, 17 November 2020. Mr and Ms Bushiri face charges of fraud and money laundering,” said Hawks spokesperson Katlego Mogale.
“At the time of their disappearance, Mr and Ms Bushiri had posted bail of R100,000 each and were required to regularly present themselves to authorities as part of complying with their bail conditions. They were due to report in court in January 2021.”
During the court proceedings on Tuesday, the matter was postponed to December 7 for the formal withdrawal of bail and forfeiture of the bail deposit.
South Africa has initiated legal proceedings to secure the extradition of the Bushiris, after the charismatic preacher announced that he had left South Africa despite the bail conditions in different cases barring him from travelling.
The Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader and his wife are also facing charges of theft, money laundering and fraud in connection with an alleged R100-million investment scheme. For that case, they were each released on R200 000 bail at the Pretoria Central Magistrate's Court on November 4, following their arrest in October.
African News Agency (ANA)