Dirco responds to Bushiri escape allegations
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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.
Officials in DIRCO work diligently and are entitled to do so without having their reputations tarnished by unnamed sources that hide in the shadows.— DIRCO South Africa (@DIRCO_ZA) November 22, 2020
It is concerning that DIRCO was not afforded an opportunity to respond to these serious allegations by the newspaper concerned.
Minister Pandor invites the newspaper to issue an immediate retraction of the wholly false suggestion that she intervened in this matter. To that end, the Department will be seeking legal advice.— DIRCO South Africa (@DIRCO_ZA) November 22, 2020
Government continues to investigate this matter and is working closely with the Government of the Republic of Malawi to achieve a resolution aimed at ensuring that the law of the Republic of South Africa is upheld.— DIRCO South Africa (@DIRCO_ZA) November 22, 2020
Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, DIRCO Spokesperson, 082 884 5974
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.