Tshwane – The Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) on Wednesday warned its multitude of followers to avoid falling victim to scamsters on social media seeking funds to bankroll Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s legal wrangle.
Several pages had been set up on Facebook and Twitter asking for donations to purportedly pay for Bushiri and his wife Mary's legal fees. The couple was on Wednesday released on R100 000 bail each. They were arrested last week and face charges including fraud and money laundering.
“We have taken note of the multiple messages purporting to be seeking financial assistance for the Prophet. We would like to warn our beloved ECG members and society at large that those messages are scams. The church has not sanctioned anyone to go around requesting money, for the bail or any other purpose,” Bushiri’s spokesperson Maynard Manyowa told African News Agency.
“We have reported some of the schemes to Capitec Bank and they are looking into the matter. Bail has been paid [for Bushiri and his wife], through legal means and people should not go around claiming that they want to fund that bail. It’s criminals on the prowl.”
On Facebook, one Buyi Kwinana wrote: "Please children of ECG let’s help contribute for Papa’s legal costs by donating R500 each to this number 081 349 1907. eWallet/cash send or send-imali. Let’s free our spiritual mother and father and do the right thing. Thank you … Papa and Mama need us. Also, if you need banking details please inbox … daughters and sons of Papa [as Bushiri is affectionately referred to by his followers]”.
Another Facebook user, ProfNthabi Beu wrote: “Please children of ECG of Prophet Shepherd H. Bushiri let’s help contribute for Papa’s legal costs by donating R1 000 and more each to this account number – Capitec 5284 9723 3631 0855. Let’s free our spiritual mother and father and let’s do the right thing. Papa bless you. Thanks in advance”.
The popular ECG leader and his wife were arrested at their plush Sparkling Waters Resort in Rustenburg in the North West province on Friday.
A crowd of fervent ECG congregants descended on the Pretoria CBD when news broke that “Major One” had been released on bail.
Leader of the Incredible Happenings Church, self-proclaimed prophet Paseka “Mboro” Motsoeneng had been at the forefront of the crowd calling for the Bushiris release.
After their release on Wednesday, a visibly excited Motsoeneng was again at the forefront -- standing in the midst of police officers hanging onto the bumper of the police nyala transporting the Bushiris from the court.
“As a man of God, as a prophet of the country, I couldn’t just sit back. We are the body of Christ and we should be supporting each other. If one church falls, it doesn’t mean it will only be that church. It’s the beginning of the fall of other churches. Where we do wrong, we confess our sins to God and he forgives us and gives us a chance. The prophet [Bushiri] has prayed for many people and he has changed many lives,” Mboro told African News Agency (ANA).
“Being back, it will bring growth to many lives and many people. Whatever he was doing changed many lives, so I’m here to support him as a brother and a friend. The [ECG] members are understandably happy that their mother and father are back. I can tell you, to have a home without a mother and a father is really traumatising. This is a beginning, and now he should focus on God and his vision to preach the gospel.”
The two popular charismatic preachers have previously buried the hatchet and now support each other.
Before being whisked away in the police nyala, Bushiri emerged through the observation hatch, intending to speak to his followers. There was a problem with the public address system of the police car.
Thousands of ECG followers chased after the convoy down Visagie Street, and into Thabo Sehume Street.
Bushiri and his wife are expected back in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on May 10.
African News Agency (ANA)