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Bushiri’s “legal team” questioned by Hawks

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The Hawks said it has been investigating Bushiri’s legal representatives for crimes since 2018 in relation to the alleged withdrawal of statements from women who had accused him of rape.

A man and woman sitting in a boardroom
Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria – The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) said on Tuesday legal representatives of fugitive leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Shepherd Bushiri were arrested and taken to court but their matter was not enrolled.

Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said the elite crime-fighting unit has been investigating Bushiri’s legal representatives for crimes including corruption, intimidation and defeating the ends of justice since 2018 in relation to the alleged withdrawal of statements from women who had accused Bushiri of rape.

“The DPCI has noted the media statement issued by Mr Shepherd Bushiri with concern. As early as 2018, Lieutenant-Colonel Mrwebi has been investigating matter relating to Mr Shepherd Bushiri’s lawyers for corruption, defeating the ends of justice and intimidation after receiving purported withdrawal statements from rape victims,” Mogale said.

“After the investigation was completed, the warrants of arrest were obtained from the magistrate’s court and ultimately executed on 1 March, 2021. The suspects were taken to court but could not be enrolled.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Bushiri lamented that his instructing attorney in South Africa, Terrance Baloyi, and legal adviser Alvin Khosa were “unlawfully” detained by the Hawks.

“On Monday, with deep shock and sadness, I learnt about how the Hawks, for eight hours, unlawfully detained my instructing attorney Mr Terrance Baloyi and my legal adviser, Mr Alvin Khosa. The eight-hour unlawful detention further included an officer from independent private investigation in South Africa,” said Bushiri in a statement issued from Lilongwe, Malawi.

“The said independent private investigator is the one I once hired to investigate extortion and blackmain (blackmail) acts against me.”

Bushiri, wanted in South Africa on charges including fraud and money laundering, said the legal team was later released without charges pressed.

“It’s shocking to note that after my instructing lawyers and the private investigator who, after being unlawfully kept in custody like convicted criminals, the senior State advocates who issued the alleged warrant of arrests were nowhere to be seen and court officials (were) left with no option but to release my lawyers from custody under the banner of claiming that the police investigations are incomplete, yet we know they have been investigating since 2017.

’’Worse, they proceeded to arrest. Clear malice, torture and harassment to the legal practitioners at its best,” said Bushiri.

“Though saddened, I am not surprised with this awful detention because it’s just an escalation and intensification of a failed scheme by certain Hawks officers hell burnt (hell-bent) to cover up the dirt I reported against them.”

He said during his stay in South Africa, he had suffered persecution from Hawks officers who wanted to extort money from him. Bushiri has repeatedly listed the Hawks officers he accused of leading the charge against him as “Phumla Mrwebi, Colonel Corrie Maritz, Du Plessis and their colleagues”.

The preacher, however, insisted Hawks officers he identified as Mrwebi, Maritz and others were still handling his case.

“I left South Africa because I was certain that with Mrwebi, Maritz and their team still handling my cases, as the situation stands, I won’t have justice before South Africa’s justice system. Mrwebi and Maritz know pretty well that I have verified and documented evidence – in print, audio and video – against their every push to intimidate us and cover up the issues that I opened cases against them.

“That is why, to escalate and intensify their intimidation against us, Mrwebi and her team have unlawfully and wrongfully arrested my instructing attorneys, counsel Baloyi and counsel Khoza. Further, to cover up on the intimidation and corruption case I opened against them, Mrwebi and her team have also unlawfully detained the officer from the independent private Investigation who was leading investigations against them.”

The Hawks, however, stated that Maritz was not part of the team probing Bushiri.

The self-proclaimed prophet added that, given the circumstances, he was unsure whether attorneys in South Africa could continue to represent him without fearing unlawful arrest and detention.

“I must add that this is (the) third time my lawyers are detained wrongfully and unlawfully. How will I receive fair trial without legal representatives as those who represent me face this kind of harassment from certain Hawks members such as Mrwebi.”

African News Agency (ANA)