Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri has been left in “deep shock and sadness” following the “unlawful” detention of his attorneys and legal advisor.
In statement issued by his spokesperson, Ephraim Nyondo, Bushiri said his attorney, Terrance Baloyi, and legal advisor Alvin Khosa were detained for eight hours by the Hawks on Monday after a warrant of arrest was issued.
According to Bushiri, the detention also included a private investigator he hired to probe extortion and blackmail acts against him.
“It’s shocking to note that after my instructing lawyers and the private investigator who, after being unlawfully kept in custody like convicted criminals. The senior state advocate who issued the alleged warrant of arrest was nowhere to be seen and court officials left with no option but to release my lawyers from custody under the banner of claiming that the police investigation is incomplete, yet we know they have been investigating since 2017, worse they proceeded to arrest,” Bushiri said.
The self-proclaimed prophet said he was not surprised by the incident “because it’s just an escalation and intensification of a failed scheme, by certain Hawks officers hell burnt to cover up the dirt I reported against them”.
“As a matter of fact, I have on several occasions shared with the public the agony, pain and persecution I have persistently suffered after I stood up to a series of extortion pushes from certain Hawks personnel led by officers Phumla Mrwebi, Colonel Corrie Maritz, Du Plessis and their colleagues.”
In 2018, Bushiri laid extortion and corruption charges after the officers allegedly tried to extort about R10 million from him.
According to Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), the officers, who were investigating several allegations of rape against Bushiri, allegedly tried to extort money from him to make his rape charges disappear.
Bushiri and his wife skipped the country in November last year after they were granted bail of R200,000 each – under strict conditions – by the Pretoria Central Magistrate’s Court, stating safety and security concerns and claiming they would not get a fair trial in South Africa.
They are facing charges of fraud and money laundering case of about R102 million.
“I left South Africa because I was certain that with Mrwebi, Maritz and their team still handling my case, as the situation stands, I won’t have justice before South Africa’s justice system.
“Mrwebi and Maritz know pretty well that I have verified and documented evidence – in print, audio and video -against their every push to intimidate us and cover up the issues that I opened cases against them.
“That is why, to escalate and intensify their intimidation against us, Mrwebi and her team have unlawfully and wrongfully arrested my instructing attorneys counsel Baloyi and counsel Khoza.
“Further, to cover up on the intimidation and corruption case I opened against them, Mrwebi and her team have also unlawfully detained the officer from Independent Private Investigation who was leading investigations against them,” he said.
While Bushiri has slammed IPID for the lack of movement on the case, the investigating directorate last year explained the prophet 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“.
Read the full statement below:
Article will be updated once comment is received from Hawks, who were unavailable by the time of publishing.