ICYMI: Major woes for Bushiri and wife as Hawks go deeper in their alleged money-laundering case

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his Mary were arrested by the Hawks after being linked to an alleged R102 million fraud and money-laundering operation.

Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his Mary were arrested by the Hawks after being linked to an alleged R102 million fraud and money-laundering operation.

Published Mar 14, 2024


Johannesburg - The cat-and-mouse battle between the Hawks and Shepherd Bushiri, leader of the popular Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), appears to be far from over.

The controversial prophet, also known as Major 1, and his wife, Mary, were arrested on Tuesday (20 October 2020) by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks).

Along with another couple, they are linked to an alleged R102 million fraud and money-laundering operation involving a Sandton-based company called Rising Estate. The company, which has operations in southern Africa and in the UK, specialises in private and commercial property investments.

The Star understands that law enforcement took an interest in 2019 when a fraud case was opened at a Pretoria West police station by a complainant.

Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale did not want to give further details about its investigations last night and instead referred the newspaper to the press statement she had released earlier about the arrests.

“All the details you are looking for will be revealed in court tomorrow (Wednesday) when the accused persons appear,” she said.

Several members of Bushiri’s church have come out to cry foul after discovering that things were not as gloomy as they (the church) had portrayed.

A month ago, one of the investors, Felicia Sibeko, wrote to The Star pleading for help after the church failed to pay her back a return on her investment.

“We are in debt, I’m even blacklisted. I can’t even get a job.

“My child can’t go to varsity because we don’t even have a cent to buy my child clothes or food, not to mention school fees.

“I can’t sleep or think properly, some even think that I’m paranoid. This so-called man of God, Major 1, ruined our lives. We only wanted a better life for ourselves, we trusted him … Little did we know that this was just the beginning of the worst in our lives,” she wrote.

Regarding the arrests, ECG church spokesperson Ephraim Nyondo said Bushiri and his partner were asked to visit the Hawks’ offices with their lawyers at 11am to discuss issues related to Rising Estate.

Nyondo, however, said the Hawks had “jumped the gun”.

“As the prophet and lawyers were getting prepared for the 11am appointment, the Hawks went to their house before time and arrested the prophet’s wife alone.”

He said Bushiri was not arrested but handed himself over to police.

However, this claim seemed to contradict the statement earlier released by Mogale in which she said a woman, 39, was arrested at her home while her husband, 37, later handed himself to police in the presence of an entourage of attorneys after trying to evade the Hawks team.

Mogale confirmed that the couple had already appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court and that their case was postponed to October 30 for a formal bail application.

The Bushiris were expected to appear in court on Wednesday.

Bushiri and his wife are no strangers to controversy, with a series of charges levelled against them in the past.

The pair was released by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in February last year on R100 000 bail each after they were arrested by the Hawks for charges of fraud and money laundering involving more than R15m.

The couple was accused of contravening South Africa’s exchange control regulations for paying about R19m for a private jet.

Among those charges are rape allegations levelled by two female congregants against the self-proclaimed prophet. Police have since confirmed that they are investigating the matter.

The pastor was also involved in a scuffle with the Hawks during level 5 lockdown when it was alleged that he used fraudulent travel permits to deliver food parcels to other provinces.

The Star

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