Bushiri ‘delighted’ with ruling on extradition case
'For now it’s business as usual for us and we will wait for the next step that the state will take,' says Bushiri.
File Picture: Self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court during their bail application on 4 November 2020. Picture: Jacques Nelles
The Malawi High Court has ruled that the extradition committal proceedings against Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader Shepherd Bushiri and wife Mary should continue.
High Court judge Redson Kapindu also said it was the discretion of the lower court to allow virtual court proceedings, adding that virtual proceedings should be allowed where satisfactory reasons have been provided, reports Newzroom Afrika.
The state had approached the high court in an attempt to overturn the lower court’s ruling, arguing that proceedings should be held virtually due to Covid-19, among other issues.
While judge Kapindu left the decision at the lower court’s discretion, he also cautioned the lower court against being “inflexible”.
As convenient as virtual proceedings may be for the South African witnesses, they will also make it difficult to see what is happening behind the camera, posing the danger of some witnesses being coached through texting, advised Kapindu.
The judge also expressed concern about sensitive exhibits being exposed online as virtual proceedings are vulnerable to cyber attacks.
Providing another alternative, the judge said where appropriate, the lower court could order that state witnesses testify before a South African court, where the proceedings will be recorded and sent to the court in Malawi.
Reacting to the ruling, Bushiri said he was “delighted”.
“I am delighted with the ruling from the high court on our extradition case. I am happy that the judge has agreed with our position, which my lawyers advanced in the magistrate’s court, that the extradition proceedings must proceed by way of a preliminary inquiry,” he told his followers on Facebook on Tuesday.
“This means that witnesses must come physically to Malawi except according to the judge if the state is able to show exceptional circumstances why the hearing should be given by video conferencing. For now it’s business as usual for us and we will wait for the next step that the state will take. One day, I mean one day, the truth shall prevail!”
Bushiri and his wife fled South Africa to return to their home country of Malawi in November 2020 after being granted bail of R200,000 each.
As per their bail conditions, the Bushiris were barred from travelling outside of South Africa and had to hand their passports over to the investigating officer.
At the time, the couple said they fled the country due to concerns over their safety and security, and claimed that they would not get a fair trial in South Africa.
The Malawian government received a formal extradition request from the South African government on 4 December 2020.
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde