Shepherd Bushiri co-accused Willah Mudolo may not leave SA for now

Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)

Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary. Picture: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 17, 2023


Pretoria - One of the people accused of allegedly defrauding members of the Enlightened Christian Gathering alongside fugitive prophet Shepherd Bushiri, Willah Mudolo, may not leave Gauteng for now.

Mudolo may only leave the province pending the outcome of the high-profile trial when it eventually gets under way.

The director of public prosecutions launched an appeal earlier this month in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, against an order issued by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court granting Mudolo bail.

His bail was initially denied because he was regarded as a flight risk, but Mudolo launched a new bail application on “new facts” and bail was granted by the lower court.

His wife and co-accused, Zethu Mudolo, were released on bail before her husband. Among the conditions were that they could not travel outside Gauteng without informing the investigating officer. They were also not allowed to travel outside South Africa’s borders.

They were ordered to surrender their travel documents and prohibited from applying for new travel documents.

In March, their bail conditions were amended by the magistrate, which allowed the couple to travel abroad on condition the investigating officer is notified, but they could only be outside the country’s borders for a maximum of 25 days. The State appealed against both the fact Mudolo was granted bail and the fact that the conditions were amended to allow him and his wife to travel abroad.

Mudolo is a Zambian, and his wife a South African.

Both stated that they have various businesses and needed to travel abroad to conduct business. His wife was granted bail of R20 000 and Mudolo’s bail was set at R250 000, coupled with various conditions.

In re-applying for bail earlier, after it was denied, Mudolo said he employed a number of people whose families depended on him for financial support and his continued incarceration affected his employees and companies because he cannot generate an income.

He also said the fact that Bushiri and his wife Mary had left the country and that the extradition process relating to them could take some time, thus delaying the trial, was another reason he should be granted bail.

According to Mudolo, the State’s case against him is also weak.

He said he needed to travel abroad because apart from his businesses here, he also has some in Zambia and Hong Kong and was thus required to travel regularly to facilitate and negotiate deals for their group of companies.

Judge Papi Mosopa said that initially his businesses were said to be located in Hong Kong and Zambia, but as the bail applications progressed, more were added. Investigations were done on the business addresses provided and some were confirmed to exist (some only on paper), while the Hong Kong business could not be confirmed.

The judge said the lower court erred in finding that it would “cripple” the respondents financially if they were not allowed to meet their business obligations abroad by travelling there. Based on his own admission, Mudolo indicated that he trained his wife as a co-director in his companies, so she may interact and assess their businesses with other stakeholders, he said.

“As such, she can travel beyond the borders of the Republic and perform her duties as a co-director of the companies and act on behalf of the first respondent through a company resolution,” the judge said.

The judge did not revoke the couple’s bail, but he did order that Mudolo may no longer travel abroad.

Pretoria News