By Duncan Mlanjira
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary, who are answering alleged criminal charges of fraud and money laundering in South Africa where they is based, have returned home to Malawi, claiming that they have relocated simply because their lives are in danger.
A report in The Zimbabwe Mail says the two, who are jointly charged with Landiwe Ntlokwana Zethu and Willie Mudolo of theft, money laundering and fraud in connection with an alleged R100 million investment scheme, had to report every Monday and Friday to their nearest police station.
However, South Africa’s priority crime investigation, the Hawks have issued a statement that the two did not report at the police station as requested as agreed upon, “which is an act of contravention of court order”.
Hawks’ Colonel Katlego Mogale says in the statement that Bushiri and his wife Mary, who had spent over two weeks in jail before being granted R200,000 bail by the Pretoria magistrate’s court after investigators and prosecutors realised that the two did not report to the police, they were informed the suspects were in Malawi.
“The current posts purporting to be issued by Bushiri who is said to be in Malawi are being authenticated and verified,” said Mogale.
The Zimbabwe Mail further says the two were also barred from disposing of any property; had to hand over to the state the original title deed to their R5.5m property in Midstream Estate, Centurion; and were barred from threatening witnesses and the investigation and prosecution teams, even while preaching.
However, in his statement Bushiri says they “are temporarily in our home country, Malawi, because of safety and security issues since 2015, matters that got worse when we just got out on bail”.
“There have been clear and evident attempts to have myself, my wife and my family killed and despite our several attempts to report to authorities, there has never been State protection,” he said.
Bushiri, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering that is based in South Africa, contends that all they want is to clear their names in a justice system that is fair, impartial and just.
To ensure their fair, impartial and just trial, Bushiri asks the South African legal authorities to:
* Assure their safety and security whilst in South Africa;
* Assure that their bail will not be revoked. “Our right to fair trial entails that we have access to our lawyers all the time. Revocation of the bail defeats our right to fair trial and also exposes us to further security and safety challenges”;
* That the officers involved in investigating, arresting and prosecuting them to recuse themselves. “As earlier said, this is the same team that I earlier lodged complaint against and, also, opened cases against. I won’t have a fair trial with their continued involvement”;
* Fourthly, the South African State should see to it that all the issues Bushiri lodged and opened against these officers must be pursued to their logical conclusion before proceeding with their case;
* Finally, the South African State to appoint independent and professional investigators and prosecutors who should make independent decisions on the cases they are allegedly accused of.
Bushiri also asks the Malawi government to liaise with the South African government to ensure that the above issues are met.
“Once these three issues are met and I am assured of a fair, just and impartial trial, I am willing to avail myself before the South Africa justice system.
“I am looking forward to that day because my wife and I have long waited for it to prove our innocence and clear our names,” he said adding that he will soon hold a press briefing in Lilongwe to be aired on all media networks across the world,” said Bushiri’s statement.