Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering church, and his wife Mary during a court appearance. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering church, and his wife Mary during a court appearance. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Dirco responds to Bushiri escape allegations

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Nov 23, 2020

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Durban – The Department for International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) has slammed the Sunday Independent over an article detailing how Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, were "smuggled" out of our South Africa.

Dirco has demanded the publication retract the article.

On Sunday, investigative journalist Piet Mahasha Rampedi, reported the couple 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 almost two weeks ago.

Quoting a number of sources, such as insiders in the government’s security cluster – including diplomatic and military intelligence sources, police officers, and bureaucrats – the article laid out how the Bushiris were able to flout bail conditions and make their escape.

The article also stated the operation was planned by Malawian intelligence officials and executed by its embassy in Pretoria.

Sources claimed the Bushiris were fetched from their home in Centurion in a Malawian embassy vehicle ahead of a scheduled 6pm flight as Chakwera wrapped up his meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In a statement posted on Dirco's Facebook and Twitter pages, Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said they had taken note of the article.

"Minister (Naledi) Pandor considers that these matters should be the subject of full and proper investigation by the responsible authorities rather than speculation that borders on irresponsible journalism," he said.

Monyela added that Dirco was also seeking legal advice on the matter.

The couple was arrested, alongside two others, on charges of fraud and money laundering worth R102 million. They were released on bail. They have since forfeited their bail money as well as their multimillion rand home in Centurion, which is set to go on auction soon.

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