The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks, has confirmed that Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri’s lawyers were arrested on Monday, 1 March 2021.
This is after Bushiri released a statement on Tuesday, claiming his attorney, Terrance Baloyi, and legal advisor Alvin Khosa were “unlawfully” detained for eight hours by the Hawks.
According to Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale, Bushiri’s lawyers were already being pursued by the Hawks on allegations of corruption, defeating the ends of justice and intimidation in connection with the withdrawal statements from the victims who accused the self-proclaimed prophet of rape.
“The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation has noted the media statement issued by Mr Shepherd Bushiri with concern. As early as 2018 Lieutenant Colonel Mrwebi has been investigating a matter relating to Mr Shepherd Bushiri’s lawyers for corruption, defeating the ends of justice and intimidation after receiving purported withdrawal statements from rape victims,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
Mogale said warrants of arrest for the lawyers were obtained from a magistrate’s court and executed on Monday after the investigations were completed.
She further said the lawyers were taken to court. However, their case could not be enrolled, which resulted in the suspects being released.
“The supervisors of the investigator are investigating the circumstance that led to the release of the suspects without enrolment.
“It should also be borne in mind that Colonel Maritz is not investigating the same cases as mentioned in Mr Bushiri’s statement,” she added.
Bushiri further claimed the detention of lawyers also included a private investigator he hired to probe extortion and blackmail acts against him.
In 2018, Bushiri laid extortion and corruption charges after police officers allegedly tried to extort about R10 million from him.
According to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), the officers, who were investigating several charges of rape against Bushiri, allegedly tried to extort money from him to make his rape charges disappear.
IPID last year said Bushiri was required to provide information about the allegations and to acquire witness statements. However, his unavailability had been “giving Ipid investigators a challenge to proceed with the case”.