Top official suspended for approving Prophet Bushiri’s permanent residency status, fails in court again
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Johannesburg - The senior government official suspended for approving controversial Malawian fugitive and self-proclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his family's permanent residency applications has failed again in his legal challenge.
The Department of Home Affairs chief director for permits, Ronney Marhule, unsuccessfully attempted to appeal Labour Court Judge Edwin Tlhotlhalemaje’s ruling that had dismissed his application. Marhule challenged the fact that Home Affairs had had legal representation during his disciplinary hearing while he had not.
On Friday, Judge Tlhotlhalemaje found that there was no basis for any conclusion to be reached that the factual matrix of Marhule’s case would receive a different treatment from the Labour Appeal Court.
”There are no legitimate disputes on the law raised nor are there any novel issues that deserve the attention of the Labour Appeal Court. Accordingly, the leave to appeal enjoys no reasonable prospects of the Labour Appeal Court coming to any different conclusion to that arrived in my judgment,” the judge found.
Judge Tlhotlhalemaje said Marhule’s urgent application and the relief he sought, combined with his application for leave to appeal, had no merit and that the matter ought not have come that far.
He found that at the core of Marhule’s urgent application was a dispute about whether the parties should be allowed legal representation in the internal disciplinary proceedings and that home affairs director-general Livhuwani Makhode addressed each ground upon which leave to appeal was sought.
Independent Media reported last month that Marhule faced an internal disciplinary hearing for approving the Bushiris' permanent residency applications without complying with standard operating procedures.
He is accused of being party to recommending and approving Bushiri and his immediate family’s applications for permanent residency.
An internal home affairs investigation found that since March 2016, when Bushiri’s application for permanent residence was received, its approval has been done without proper compliance with the department’s standard operating procedures and was in contravention of the Immigration Act.
The Bushiris’ applications were captured and granted by its officials, using the incorrect section of the act as a result of Bushiri and his wife Mary’s commissions or omissions, according to the department’s evidence.
In the Labour Court in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, Marhule challenged the disciplinary hearing initiated against him, in which he and three other officials were accused of being enablers and facilitators who made it possible for Bushiri to obtain a permanent residence permit.
Home affairs also believes the irregular permanent residency allowed Bushiri and his family to remain in South Africa and commit criminal acts that include fraud, forgery and money laundering charges and later skip the country while out on bail.