Fraud accused Bushiris spend another weekend behind bars
Pretoria - Judgment in the bail applications of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader Shepherd Bushiri and his four co-accused should not be expected come Monday.
Prophet Sheperd Bushiri and Mary Bushiri, Willah Mudolo, Zethu Mudolo, and Landiwe Ntlokwana Sindani, will spend another weekend in custody as their bail proceedings was postponed yet again in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
This after the State read through a 50-page affidavit from the investigating officer accompanied by supporting documents detailing why it believed bail should be denied to all of the accused in a case involving charges of fraud, theft, and money laundering.
It was alleged that members of the church were invited to invest in Prophet Bushiri Investments and promised a 50% return on their monies within two months.
Members were told to deposit the money or alternatively give the cash to agents, one of which was Ntlokwana.’
The sum total of R106 million was subsequently deposited into the company Rising Estate, belonging to the Mudolo couple, the first and second accused in the matter.
The investigating officer said those funds were then transferred to the Prophetic Channels bank account and used to allegedly fund their lavish lifestyles, including the purchase of a Rolls Royce worth R8 million.
In fact, the State indicated that the channel was not making any money, an allegation which was disputed by the Bushiri’s legal defence.
The State requested bail be denied as there was a likelihood the accused would evade trial as witnessed by three attempts made by Mudolo (Willah) to leave the country on October 13, 16, and 17.
With assets such as a Bentley worth R4.6 million, a Maserati Levante worth R2.6 million, and a Mercedes Benz G-Wagon worth R2.25 million already having been exported to Malawi by the Bushiri’s.
She said there was a chance for interference with State witnesses as was seen with previous cases launched against Bushiri.
It stated that setting bail conditions would not suffice as they could obtain further documents or escape through any of the borders in the country.
Plus the knowledge that the tracing of criminals in third world countries was difficult and with the group being involved in investment schemes trading their businesses could continue from anywhere.
A statement from Ntlokwana’s mother was also submitted to the courts where she says she was not living with her daughter and that she and her husband were merely renting one of the properties from her instead.
The State stressed that assertions that the Bushiri family lived with their children in a normal home setting were also untrue as the children were said to be attending school and residing in Malawi, only visiting their parents in the country sporadically.
Legal defence for all of the accused, save for Willah Mudolo submitted that the basis for the State’s arguments and reasoning for requesting that bail be denied was purely speculative and in fact alluded to the State deliberately frustrating the process.
They said this was done by the State by delaying giving them copies of the affidavit being submitted in court.
Magistrate Thandi Theledi postponed the matter for Monday for the heads of argument to be delivered and stressed that she would not be handing out her judgment even then as she had numerous documents to go through.