Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader Shepherd Bushiri has bemoaned the postponement of his fraud and money laundering case by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday.
Bushiri and his wife, Mary Bushiri, are facing charges of fraud, money laundering and the contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca) for offences the couple allegedly committed from 2015.
The case was postponed to October this year for the state to “get their house in order”, said Bushiri, who further alleged state witnesses “refused” to attend court proceedings due to Covid-19.
“This morning, my wife and I appeared at the Pretoria High Court for a trial which was postponed on the 29th November 2019. During our appearance, the prosecutors applied for the court to postpone the trial till next year July, because their 29 witnesses refused to come to court because of Covid-19.
“My wife and I, together with our lawyers, took the risk in spite of Covid-19 and attended court. How is Covid-19 dangerous to the witnesses and not for my wife and I? I ask…
“I instructed our lawyers to vehemently oppose the postponement to next year, as we have been on remand for over a year already. Our lawyers indeed gave a detailed history and opposed the postponement,” said Bushiri in a statement.
He further questioned how the state always asked for more time when it claimed to have had evidence against the couple when they were arrested in February last year.
“We are disappointed that the Judge has granted a postponement for the State to get their house in order. The President of South Africa has announced that we should learn to live with Covid-19 in our lives. Therefore this trial should have proceeded because it was booked for the whole month of August.
“I feel this it unfair, seeing my lawyers were ready to proceed with the trial.
“We have faith in the justice system of this nation; we do believe that we will get justice one day and we will be able to live our lives freely.”
Bushiri said he was ready to clear his name.