Cape Town – Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has confirmed that the extradition of self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri is still under way with judgment on some of the aspects of the case awaited in a court in Malawi.
Lamola said it was still the intention of the government to bring Bushiri back to South Africa to face the law after he escaped late last year.
However, the extradition process has been held up in court where Bushiri is opposing it.
Lamola said when they put in place processes to bring Bushiri back they followed all aspects of the law.
Bushiri escaped with his wife Mary late in 2020, and at the time they were standing trial for fraud and money laundering amounting to millions of rand.
They were out on bail of R200 000 each.
Since his escape Bushiri has been fighting South African authorities wanting to bring him back to face trial.
But Lamola, who was replying to a written question in Parliament from IFP MP Liezl van der Merwe, said they were now awaiting judgment on the matter of whether witnesses should be allowed to travel from South Africa to give evidence in Malawi.
“During November 2020, a request was received from the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) for the extradition of Shepherd Huxley Bushiri and Mary Bushiri from the Republic of Malawi to the Republic of South Africa to stand trial on various charges. The request was subsequently delivered at the office of the Attorney-General in Malawi on December 5, 2020. The extradition hearing proceeded in the Lilongwe magistrate’s court in Malawi.
“On April 19, 2021, the attorneys acting on behalf of the Bushiris argued in court that South Africa could not rely on the SADC Protocol on Extradition as the Protocol has not been domesticated in accordance with section 211 of the Republic of Malawi’s Constitution. The court ruled that even though the Protocol had not yet been domesticated, that Malawi’s Extradition Act clearly demonstrates in the First Schedule to that Act that South Africa is a designated country for purposes of extradition, and therefore ruled in favour of the prosecution. The matter was then postponed to Friday June 4, 2021, for the extradition hearing to start.
“During the proceedings the defence argued that the witnesses who would testify against the Bushiris in South Africa should travel to Malawi to give evidence during the extradition proceedings.
“The magistrate’s court ruled in favour of the defence that the witnesses should travel to Malawi. The DPP in Malawi advised the department that they are of the view that the magistrate’s court misdirected itself as regards what amounts to a preliminary inquiry, and that Section 9 of the Extradition Act of Malawi never envisaged physical presence of witnesses in court during an extradition hearing.
“The office of the DPP in Malawi filed a review application to review and set aside the magistrate court’s ruling. The review application was heard on July 21, 2021, and judgment is expected soon,” said Lamola.