During the briefing, Motsoaledi explained the Department of Home Affairs’ role in the Bushiri case and said that the department was told to back off when the Bushiris were being investigated, after their arrest for the first time in 2019.
“We need to revoke their permanent resident status,” Motsoaledi said.
He further confirmed the that couple did not skip the country with any of their five passports.
“Bushiri has five passports, all issued in Malawi, Mary Bushiri also has five passports.”
Responding via a statement, Bushiri said there was nothing wrong with having five passports.
“For the record, my wife and have five passports each, one of which is a diplomatic passport and one is a normal passport. we submitted all these passports to the investigating officer in South Africa,” said Bushiri.
“Because we are frequent travellers due to the work of our ministry, the other passports are full, however, they have international visas and hence we kept them. There is nothing sinister about that. Even the Immigration Department in Malawi has attested to that. The impression is that these are passports with different names and details. Once again, this issue is before the High Court in South Africa.”
Bushiri further bemoaned the department’s decision to revoke their permanent residence.
“This is but one of the many injustices that I feared would befall me and my wife. This internal process is already prejudged by the minister [Motsoaledi] before I submit my representations on why our permits should not be revoked because we did nothing wrong.”
Bushiri said Motsoaledi’s presentation to Parliament on Tuesday strengthened his fear that he would not get a fair trial in South Africa.
“I need to underline that I came to Malawi not to seek political intervention. I came to Malawi to seek justice before the constitution of the Republic of Malawi. I have strong belief in the constitution of Malawi because it protects every citizen, including my wife and I.”
He said he would be presenting himself before law enforcement agencies this morning to legally explain and defend the decision to flee to Malawi.
“I am innocent until proven guilty. As of now, there is no court in the world that has proven me guilty. I may be subjected by media and public trial but I maintain my innocence until proven guilty. I cannot have a fair trial in South Africa!”
Bushiri and his wife were granted bail of R200,000 and stand accused of theft, money laundering, and fraud. As officials scramble to find out the finer details on how he managed to flee, the Hawks confirmed he did not present himself to the police as required.
On Sunday, South Africa started the official extradition process in order to return the Bushiris to the country to stand trail.
Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a statement the extradition from Malawi would be requested in terms of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Extradition “and other legal instruments, to which Malawi is a signatory”.
“While this process is underway, law-enforcement agencies will continue investigations into this matter,” said Williams.
According to Malawian publication Times 360 Malawi, police last night went to Bushiri’s house in Lilongwe to arrest him after receiving a warrant of arrest from Interpol.
“Our sources close to the matter confided in us that the 15 armed police officers did not find the prophet at home,” reported the publication.
It further reported that the couple had handed themselves over at Lilongwe Police Station as promised.
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