THE extradition hearing against self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri, and his wife, Mary, is expected to begin in the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court in Malawi tomorrow.
The charismatic preacher and his wife are wanted in South Africa on fraud and money-laundering charges related to an investment scheme valued at about US$7 million. The couple were arrested in South Africa, but after being granted bail they fled to Malawi, claiming they were not safe in South Africa.
As part of their bail conditions in South Africa they were only allowed to travel within Gauteng and North West provinces until the case had been finalised. The couple own a hotel in Rustenburg in North West.
They handed themselves over to the police in Malawi after a warrant of arrest was issued by Interpol. Lilongwe magistrate Viva Nyimba released them unconditionally, stating that their arrest was unlawful because there was no formal request from South Africa.
Director of Public Prosecutions in Malawi Steven Kayuni filed an application in the Lilongwe High Court to appeal against Nyimba’s ruling to release the couple unconditionally but withdrew the application after South Africa formally requested the couple’s extradition.
Last week, South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) said legal representatives for Bushiri were arrested and taken to court, but their matter was not enrolled.
Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said the elite crimefighting 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 Shepherd Bushiri with concern. As early as 2018, Lieutenant Colonel Mrwebi has been investigating matter relating to 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, 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. — AN