The Hawks have confirmed that the fraud-accused Shepherd Bushiri, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering church, and his wife Mary contravened their bail conditions by failing to report to a local police station.
Cape Town – The Hawks have confirmed that self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering church, and his wife Mary contravened their bail conditions by failing to report to a local police station.
“There are unconfirmed reports that Prophet Bushiri and his wife have absconded from South Africa, which is in contravention of their bail conditions as set in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court,” said Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale on Saturday.
’’At this stage, we can confirm that he did not report at the police station as requested and agreed upon, which is also an act of contravention of court order.
’’Investigators, together with prosecutors, have been working tirelessly since it came to light that he did not report at the police station.
’’The current posts purporting to be issued by Bushiri, who is said to be in Malawi, are being authenticated and verified. Investigation around the failure to comply with the court order is under way.“
The couple were only allowed to travel within Gauteng and North West until the case was finalised after being granted bail of R200 000 each by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on November 4. All of the accused had to report at a nearby police station on Monday and Friday between 6am and 6pm.
The couple and their three co-accused face fraud and money laundering charges related to an investment scheme valued at about R102 million after being arrested in October.
Explaining why they have left the country, Bushiri said in a statement on Twitter on their arrival in Malawi that they fear for their safety and he wants several demands met before returning for trial. Once five issues are met and he is assured of a fair, just and impartial trial, he is ’’willing to avail myself before the South Africa justice system’’.
’’I would like to inform the general public that my wife, Mary, and I are temporarily in our home country, Malawi, because of safety and security issues since 2015. These matters have gotten worse after we just got both our bails.
’’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.
’’Our coming to Malawi, hence, is a tactical withdrawal from the Republic of South Africa solely meant to preserve our lives.
’’These attempts have been heightened with recent spates of arrests and detentions that we felt the only way for us to clear our names before the law is to ensure that our lives are preserved. My wife and I strongly believe in our innocence but this cannot be proved if our lives are not preserved. We have to be alive to testify to our innocence.
’’As we stand here, we were arrested in 2019 on allegedly money laundering charges and it’s getting to two years now without trial because the State is not ready to give it.
’’As we keep waiting for that trial to come, we were arrested again, kept in custody for over two weeks and we are not sure if we will face trial. Equally shocking is the fact that as we kept waiting to get the facts of the recent arrest, the State brought up immigration issues that they, not us, owe the public an explanation. But they want us to explain.
’’Against this background, we have come to a painful conclusion that what my wife and I have faced in the Republic of South Africa, since 2015, is purely persecution NOT prosecution.
’’What is shocking is that it was me who, in 2018, opened cases of extortion and intimidation against the officers who are, today, investigating, arresting and prosecuting me and my wife of these several allegations.
’’Obviously, there can never be independence and impartiality. It’s purely acts of open vengeance. This, I must say, clearly violates rules of natural justice which says justice must not just be done but be seen to be done.
’’As such, I want to make it clear, here, that our coming to Malawi is not an act of running away from being tried. Not at all.
’’All my wife and I want is to clear our names in a justice system that is fair, impartial and just. In this vein, I am calling for the following to be met by the Republic of South African authorities to ensure our fair, impartial and just trial.
’’1. First, I want the South African government to assure us of our safety and security whilst in South Africa.
’’2. Secondly, I want the South African government to assure us that our 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.
’’3. Thirdly, I want the officers involved in investigating, arresting and prosecuting us 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.
’’4. Fourthly, I want the South African State to see to it that all the issues I lodged and opened against these officers must be pursued to their logical conclusion before proceeding with our case.
’’5. Finally, I want the South African State to appoint independent and professional investigators and prosecutors who should make independent decisions on the cases we are allegedly accused of.
’’In this regard, I am requesting Malawi government to liaise with the South African government to ensure that the above issues are met.
’’Once these five 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.
’’I will hold a press briefing in Lilongwe, Malawi, and it will be aired on all media networks across the world soon.’’
As part of their strict bail conditions, Bushiri and his wife had to hand in the title deed for their property in Centurion as a guarantee. They were also not allowed to make any comments in their church services about witnesses, the prosecution team and those involved in the case.
“Accused number four and five (the Bushiris) are barred from travelling anywhere else in the republic of South Africa. They can only travel within Gauteng and North West province until the case is finalised,” magistrate Thandi Theledi had said.
Bushiri also posted on Facebook on Saturday that the “Prophet will be giving a special public address right here on Facebook, our YouTube channel as well as Prophetic Channel at exactly 14.00 hrs”.