Black First Land First (BLF) has called upon Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola to withdraw the extradition application for Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri.
In a statement, the BLF condemned the attempts to bring Bushiri and his wife, Mary, back to the country, saying the matter was “nothing but the abuse of the judiciary by the government of South Africa”.
“Justice Ronald Lamola is doing the dirty work of the enemies of prophet Bushiri. The South African government has shown itself to being incapable of giving Bushiri a fair trial,” the party said in a statement.
Bushiri and his wife appeared in the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court on Monday for their formal extradition hearing which was adjourned to 15 March after the couple’s lawyer requested the magistrate handling the case to recuse himself, according to Malawi publication The Nation.
This is after the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services submitted an extradition request to Malawi after the Bushiris skipped the country in November.
The couple fled South Africa, citing 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 of about R102 million.
The BLF said it believed the SA government was pushing an “agenda and a vendetta” against Bushiri following the arrest and detention of his lawyers in South Africa.
“First was the unlawful arrest of the legal representatives of Major 1 for an entire eight hours at the OR Tambo International Airport. This act alone proves Major 1’s complaint of bias against him to be true.
“The second event is the public confession by one of the women who were recruited by the Hawks accusing the prophet of the crime of rape.
“This woman, whose case the South African government relies on in its extradition application, has subsequently confessed that she lied about the prophet.
“All the accusations against Major 1 are based on fabricated evidence by the Hawks who want to extort money from the prophet as part of a larger plan by white monopoly capital to capture the black church.”
The Hawks confirmed that warrants of arrest for Bushiri’s lawyers were executed after investigations into the allegations of corruption, defeating the ends of justice and intimidation had been completed.
The crime investigating directorate said the lawyers were taken to court. However, their case could not be enrolled, which resulted in them being released.
Additional reporting from News24 Wire and Sandisiwe Mbhele