Fugitive from South African law and self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri claimed he and his wife Mary were innocent until proven guilty, shortly before handing himself over to Malawian authorities yesterday.
In a statement, Malawian police confirmed that the couple were in their custody.
“The [pastor] and his wife handed themselves over to the police,” read the statement.
Bushiri said in a press release to the Southern African Development Community yesterday he could not have a fair trial in South Africa.
Bushiri, along with three others, face charges of theft, fraud, and money laundering involving more than R100 million.
“I am innocent until proven guilty. I may be subjected to media and public trial but I maintain my innocence,” he said.
Bushiri further said he has a “strong belief” in the constitution of Malawi. “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.”
Bushiri also accused Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi of intentionally and unfairly misleading the portfolio committee on home affairs in parliament on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, a second warrant for arrest has been issued on Tuesday for Bushiri and his wife.
“South Africa has initiated legal proceedings to secure the extradition of the fugitives,” said Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale.
In November 2019, a local publication reported the case against the Bushiris was handed to the high court where they faced charges of fraud and money laundering.
“At the time of their disappearance, Mr and Ms Bushiri had posted bail of R100 000 each and were required to regularly present themselves to authorities as part of complying with their bail conditions.”
The Bushiris were due to report in court on that matter in January next year.
The matter for the formal withdrawal of bail and forfeiture of the bail deposit has been postponed to 7 December.
Bushiri was supposed to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court today after they were granted bail of R200 000 each on 4 November. The couple stand to lose a total of R600 000 in bail if the respective courts find them guilty of breaking his bail conditions.
Political economy analyst Daniel Silke said Bushiri was clearly betting on the internal processes in Malawi rather than the legal processes taking place in South Africa.
“Therefore his escape to Malawi and putting himself forward for arrest again underlines the fact that he would rather take so-called justice in Malawi than face it in South Africa,” Silke said.
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