Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary. FILE PHOTO: Dimpho Maja/African News Agency (ANA)
THE State might this week approach the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, for an order to preserve the many assets of controversial prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary.

However, this will be done behind closed doors.

The asset forfeiture unit (AFU) has already filed a preservation order in terms of the Preservation of Organised Crime Act. If this is obtained, it will mean that Bushiri will not be able to touch his luxury cars, houses and private jet, as these will be under the State’s care.

If convicted, the AFU can apply with the court for a forfeiture order - which will mean that these assets will land in the state’s coffers.

Head of the Pretoria Society for Advocates Francois Botes SC said the media would not have access to this application. Applications of this nature are brought on an ex parte basis - meaning the Bushiri camp will not know when it is heard or have a chance to defend it at this stage.

This is to safeguard against disposing of the assets in the meantime. They can fight the preservation order later.

Botes said applications of this nature were usually heard in chambers by either the deputy judge president himself or another senior judge.

Meanwhile, prominent defence advocate Barry Roux will lead the Bushiris’ appearance in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court again today.

Bushiri’s attorney Terrence Baloyi confirmed Roux’s inclusion in the legal team, adding that he had been part of the team from the outset.

“He just couldn’t appear yesterday (Monday),” Baloyi said.

Bushiri, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering, and his wife were arrested on Friday at their Sparkling Waters Resort in Rustenburg in the North West province, for crimes including fraud and money laundering.

Hawks national spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi revealed that the arrest related to a 2015 investigation and denied there was a personal vendetta against the controversial “prophet”.

Mulaudzi said Bushiri’s tribulations centred on the infringement of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

“We are making allegations that there is money that was used illegally during the transactions of some of the assets Mr and Mrs Bushiri have,” he said.