Charles Cilliers
Journalist
2 minute read
4 Jun 2021
2:41 pm

Bushiri ‘disappointed’ SA witnesses couldn’t get to Malawi to testify against him

Charles Cilliers

Facing charges of fraud and money laundering to the tune of R102m, the fugitive church leader reckons it shouldn't be so hard to get to Malawi.

Bushiri and wife Mary at court in Malawi. Picture: Facebook

In a Facebook post on Friday, the controversial leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church, Shepherd Bushiri, wrote that he and his wife attended the Malawi Magistrates court in the morning but were left “disappointed” that the South African witnesses against them did not pitch.

“We were expecting to finally face the South African witnesses that are opposing us in the ongoing trial.”

He said these witnesses had supposedly claimed “there were no available flights from South Africa to Malawi”, which he challenged because “my own lawyers from South Africa managed to fly into the country just a few days ago”.

He said the witnesses had supposedly also blamed the Covid-19 pandemic, which he argued was also not a valid legal excuse, since both South Africa and Malawi had “put in place Covid-19 measures that have ensured the safe travels of citizens for the past months”.

“I am disappointed with this result because it is a repeat of events that have been taking place for the past three years when I was appearing before the South African courts for the same case. For three years they failed to bring witnesses through to testify against my wife and I, and today, they have done the same thing.”

He said they would continue to place their trust in God until they were vindicated from “all the injustices we are facing”. He thanked his supporters who had attended court “in large numbers”.

Bushiri supporters outside court in Malawi. Picture: Facebook

Bushiri supporters outside court in Malawi. Picture: Facebook

Bushiri and his wife Mary’s extradition process was meant to have been concluded as early as March already. The Malawian government earlier applied to extradite the self-proclaimed prophet and his wife to South Africa.

Malawi received a formal extradition request from the South African government on 4 December.

The Bushiris are wanted in connection with a fraud and money laundering case to the alleged tune of R102 million.

The duo, however, fled South Africa to their homeland just a few days after they were granted bail of R200,000 each – under strict conditions – in the Pretoria Central Magistrate’s Court.

The couple skipped the country in November, citing safety and security concerns.

Bushiri called it a “tactical withdrawal from the Republic of South Africa … to preserve our lives”.

“We have to be alive to testify to our innocence,” he said at the time.

The Bushiris’ eight-year-old daughter Israella died in a Kenyan hospital at the end of March.