Pretoria - If you thought controversial prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s followers would turn their back on him after he handed himself over to police for crimen injuria on Saturday, you had it all wrong.
From the moment a video of the Pretoria-based Malawian, fondly known as Major 1, taken at the Pretoria West police station started making the rounds, his followers were ready to attack anyone who dared criticise him.
This, after the leader of Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) handed himself in to police to give a statement in connection with the case brought against him by Rustenburg businesswoman, Lebogang Mpane. She pressed criminal charges after he apparently called her a witch on live TV in one of his prophetic sermons - a claim the prophet's lawyers denied vehemently.
The police visited his church last week to obtain a statement from him, but pandemonium broke out between the officers and security guards.
As always, some social media users were quick to say they were vindicated as they had been saying he is “a fake prophet”. But his congregants were having none of that and said “the devil was trying to destroy Major 1” .
Crooked Shepherd Bushiri has been avoiding the police for a while, Yesterday SAPS went to his church to arrest him & some Police officers who protect him managed to hide him. Today Bushiri handed himself over to the police accompanied by his lawyer Barry Roux. pic.twitter.com/nUR1JGuWo9
On Facebook, Azania Azania said: “God forbid! If there are hated people this earth has seen they are prophets. Especially true prophets, Prophet Bushiri you got my support. May God keep you and bless you and your family.”
Unathi Binase thought she could pull the “I told you so” stunt on Bushiri’s followers. However, Robert Monjedzi reminded Binase who the last man standing would be.
“Let them try all they can to stop him, but at the end he will triumph over them. He must keep on loving them and his master (Jesus Christ) will keep on fighting for him.”
@ReginaldTlhole1 was another Major 1 fan who encouraged others not to be swayed by all the negativity. “No demon, no Satanist, can defeat Major Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his followers. I love you so much with all my heart God will always be with you forever.”
The man of the cloth’s legal representative Terrance Baloyi confirmed he had accompanied Bushiri to the police station at about 7pm on Saturday.
He said they were convinced the constable in charge of the case had a personal vendetta against the prophet. “We want to believe that the police went to our prophet's church on a personal matter.
"Actually we have since learnt that the constable is a girlfriend of one of the pastors who's against our church.”
Baloyi said on arrival at the church building, the officers were told Bushiri was out of the country, but they suspected the security guards were hiding the prophet. A scuffle broke out.
When he arrived at the church subsequently, the police were already gone, he said.
“I phoned the constable to let her know that I would be making my way to the police station with the prophet when he was back in the country on Saturday, which we did."
In addition, Baloyi said they were also considering taking legal action against police officers who shot a video of Bushiri and later shared it on social media. Police comment on the matter is still pending.