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By Citizen Reporter


‘Only SA officials will travel to Malawi to testify in Bushiri extradition case’ – Justice Department

The officials will testify on a set list of questions in relation to the extradition hearing.

The Department of Justice says only certain witnesses will have to go testify in the extradition case of self-proclaimed prophet, Shepherd Bushiri, and his wife, Mary, in Malawi.

The department sought to provide clarity on the matter following the Malawi High Court’s judgment which overturned last year’s ruling that allowed witnesses to give evidence virtually before a South African court.

Bushiri and his wife had appealed the ruling of the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court, arguing for witnesses to physically be present in a Malawian court in order to testify in the extradition hearing.

In a Facebook post, Bushiri – whose real name is Chipiliro Gama – hailed the ruling as a “milestone victory”.

‘Not a trial’

While the department has welcomed the ruling and “stands ready to comply”, it says the judgment has been “misinterpreted in some quarters”.

“We believe the judgment speaks for itself. The judgment of the High Court of Malawi clarifies that an extradition hearing is not a trial. The judgment also resolves the questions around what type of witness are required for the extradition hearing,” the department’s spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said in a statement.

According to the department, the Malawian court is only asking for state and law enforcement officials in South African to give their testimonies.

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Phiri said the officials would testify on a set list of questions in relation to the hearing.

“Witnesses to a preliminary inquiry / extradition hearing are representatives / agents of the requesting state who will be able to answer questions and be cross-examined by the fugitive on the issues on Section 6,” the judgment reads.

The department said the ruling also clarified the “protection of the sexual offences witnesses from being exposed to trauma and embarrassment when they come to Malawi does not arise. They will not come to Malawi, nor will other witnesses at the impending trial”.

Source: Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services

The Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court had initially ruled that the witnesses should travel to Malawi in June 2021 before the state filed a review application to set aside the judgment.

The judgment in the review application was delivered on 8 February 2022, with the Malawi High Court ruling that the extradition hearing will be heard in the same fashion as a criminal trial and that evidence may be heard in the form of sworn affidavits or by way of virtual or physical testimony.

Extradition request

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

The couple fled to Malawi in November 2020, a few days after they were granted bail of R200 000 each by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, citing safety and security concerns and claiming they would not get a fair trial in South Africa.

Meanwhile, Phiri said on Wednesday that the Justice Department was looking forward to conclude the extradition.

“Our co-operation and relationship with government institutions in Malawi responsible for mutual legal assistance and extradition, namely the central authority and prosecution authority, remain in effect. We appreciate the continued collaboration of the authorities in the processing of our extradition request.”

Malawi received the formal extradition request for the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader and his wife from the South African government the same year the pair escaped.

The extradition request was submitted in terms of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol although it had not yet been domesticated.

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