Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary. FILE PHOTO: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - Controversial prophet Shepherd Bushiri looks set to lose his luxury jet after National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi, successfully applied for a court order to have the pastor forfeit the aircraft to the state.

North Gauteng High Court Judge Takalani Raulinga granted the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) a preservation order against Bushiri on February 4, stating to interested parties that “if you have interest in the aircraft, you should understand that it is now at risk” in his order.

The preservation order was granted in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca), as the NPA suspects the aircraft is “the proceeds of unlawful activities” and was instrumental in committing the crimes Bushiri is accused of by the state.

The 1984 Gulfstream III model 1159 aircraft is being held at Lanseria Airport north of Joburg.

The court issued its preservation order to Shepherd Bushiri Investments or anyone interested in the aircraft.

Bushiri, 35, and his 37-year-old wife Mary were arrested more than two weeks ago by the Hawks for fraud, money laundering and contravention of Poca, which were allegedly committed from 2015.

They are accused of flouting exchange control regulations relating to foreign currency of more than R16million.

Malawian Bushiri and his wife ran several businesses in South Africa and abroad and appeared before the Pretoria Commercial Crime Court, where they were each granted R100000 bail last week.

The couple is back in court in May.

Bushiri’s Tshwane-based Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG) has been in the news since the deaths of three women during one of its services in December.

However, last week the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) found that calls by the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) for Bushiri to leave the country were discriminatory.

The CRL Commission investigated Sanco’s calls for the ECG to be shut down but found the move would be “against the spirit and letter of the right to freedom of religion in terms of the constitution”.

Bushiri’s ECG claims the pastor, who was arrested at his luxury Sparkling Waters Hotel in Rustenburg, said some police officers demanded bribes of R10m to ensure the case disappeared.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – the Hawks’ official name – has denied it had a personal vendetta against Bushiri. 

“It’s an investigation. People must not take this as a personal attack against the prophet. What we are saying is that there were issues that were raised with us and as a law enforcement agency, we have a responsibility to investigate these cases,” Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

Bushiri’s lawyer Terrence Baloyi could not be reached for comment.

The Sunday Independent