Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed his department has the names of the officials who assisted Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, with passports to enable their escape from South Africa.
Speaking at a Q&A session in the National Assembly on Wednesday, 3 March, Motsoaledi said the investigation into how the couple escaped the country was still ongoing, which meant the identities of the officials could not yet be disclosed.
The minister noted that the Hawks and Military Intelligence were assisting the department with the investigation, SAgovnews reported.
“The Bushiri matter is being investigated not only by Home Affairs, but by a slew of Parliamentary committees. The Hawks are involved, Military Intelligence is involved, as well as Home Affairs,” Motsoaledi said.
“I have reported many times that it was agreed that Home Affairs must not disclose any of the officials who were involved, until all these committees report and the portfolio committee on home affairs has decided to call all the other portfolio committees, so that this becomes a joint venture. That’s where we are.”
Last year, Motsoaledi also said his department uncovered evidence that the Bushiris entered South Africa using visitors visas and conducted business with them, which meant the couple were in the country illegally.
He said two notices served to the couple to explain details in their permanent residence applications had been “mysteriously” withdrawn, with the latest one sent out in August last year.
The great escape
Bushiri and his wife skipped the country in November last year after they were granted bail of R200,000 each by the Pretoria Central Magistrate’s Court, claiming safety and security concerns and that they would not get a fair trial in South Africa.
They are facing charges of fraud and money laundering of about R102 million.
The couple will appear in the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court in Malawi on 8 March for their formal extradition hearing with the decision expected to be made the same day.
Malawi received a formal extradition request from the South African government on 4 December.
Additional reporting from News24 Wire and Sandisiwe Mbhele