The legal team of self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, will apply to the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court in Malawi to have South Africa’s extradition request thrown out.
“Yes, I confirm,” the couple’s lawyer, Wapona Kita has said.
When probed him on what warranted this application, Kita responded: “It is on the grounds that the SADC (Southern African Development Community) protocol is not part of the laws of Malawi and therefore cannot be used as a legal basis for extradition.”
Following court proceedings in Malawi on Monday, Kita told the media that “as much as it (the SADC protocol) was signed, it has not been domesticated as part of the laws of Malawi”.
According to Kita, this meant that Malawi’s Parliament had not agreed to the SADC protocol officially being part of Malawi’s laws.
“… so it cannot be used in court as a basis to extradite someone,” Kita said.
Bushiri and his wife, Mary, are wanted in South Africa on fraud and money laundering charges to the tune of R102 million.
They, however, fled the country to their homeland just a few days after the Pretoria Central Magistrate’s Court granted them bail of R200 000 each under strict conditions.
South Africa subsequently sent a formal extradition request to Malawi, which was received by the Malawian government in December.
News24 earlier reported that South Africa’s Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said the extradition process for the Bushiris would be regulated by SADC protocols and a bilateral agreement with Malawi.
“We are convinced the Bushiris will come back to South Africa to stand trial,” Lamola previously said.
Immigration attorney Gary Eisenberg told News24 Bushiri had some valid defences regarding the SADC protocol on extradition. Both Malawi and South Africa are signatories of the protocol.
“Do I think that prophet Bushiri has some valid defence in terms of the SADC protocol on extradition, to which SA and Malawi are signatories? Yes, I believe he has some valid defences.
“I am not talking about technical defences in terms of Malawian law. I’m talking about defences in terms of the treaty that would he get a fair trial in South Africa,” he said.
The couple’s extradition hearing began on 8 March with the possibility that it could be finalised the same day but instead has been met with several delays.
The couple is due back in court on 19 April.