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‘Prophet’ Shepherd Bushiri at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on 30 October 2020. Picture: Jacques Nelles
Golden balloons spell the word MAJOR 1 as hundreds of Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) supporters met in front of the Pretoria Magistrates Court where self-proclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his co-accused appeared for their bail application.
From as early as 7.00 on Friday morning, ECG supporters started arriving at court, one of the clerks told The Citizen.
On 30 October Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, his wife Mary, Landiwe Ntlokwana, and two others appeared and applied for bail before magistrate Thandi Thelede in court 6.
Accused one and two in the case may not be photographed or named.
The group was arrested on charges of theft, money laundering, and fraud worth R120 million on 20 October.
Magistrate Thandi Thelede has reserved the ruling of the bail application for 2 November.
“I will definitely be here on Monday to support the Prophet. God is in him. I was a drunkard and then he helped me, now I read the bible every day and preach the Word,” a man on the street dressed in an ECG shirt with a photo of the Prophet said.
The supporters are not keen to talk to the media and said they were told not to comment.
“We believe God is the judge and no one will speak against him. I am here because I am a daughter of God and at Major 1 church, I got my calling,” one of the supporters said.
She is a disciple at the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) and agreed to speak anonymously to The Citizen.
“Meeting the Prophet was the greatest miracle and I found my salvation when he prayed for me.”
Meanwhile, inside the courtroom, more supporters dressed in matching church dresses, shoes, and hats were asked by Magistrate Thelede to leave the court to adjure to the current Covid-19 regulations.
When the bail application proceedings commenced, the state argued the accused should be denied bail because they pose as a flight risk.
The state said they are a flight risk due to multiple passports and some of the suspects not being South African citizens.
Furthermore, the state argued the release of the suspects might disturb the public peace, “the support outside speaks volumes”.
Accused one was arrested after attempting to flee the country three times before being arrested at the OR Thambo International Airport by the Hawks on 17 October.
In the bail application, the state told the court about the prophet’s controversial birthday gift, a Bentley to his then six-year-old daughter, and other luxury vehicles the couple owns, including a Rolls Royce and a Porsche.
Bushiri’s defence indicated to the court he and his wife would be able to pay bail of R200,000 respectively.
Ntlokwana’s defence stated she will be able to pay a bail of between R50,000 and R100,000.
By the end of the day, the hundreds of supporters from (ECG) and other church communities were still seen and heard in the street in front of the court singing to worship songs and beating drums as they continued to show their support for the prophet.
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