Bushiris' lawyers in the dark about escape - mum on the future of relationship
Lawyers associated with the self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering church, Shepherd Bushiri — who fled SA with his wife Mary — are in the dark after the couple's violation of strict bail conditions.
The duo were released on R200,000 bail each by the Pretoria Commercial Crime Court less than a month ago. They are facing charges of theft, money laundering and fraud in connection with an alleged R102m “investment scheme”.
During their bail application, their legal team argued the pair was not a flight risk despite strong links with Malawi. It has emerged that the couple fled the country for Malawi after failing to report to their local police station on Friday in terms of their bail conditions.
According to reports, speculation is rife that the couple's escape is linked to the visit to the country by Malawian president Lazarus Chakwera on Thursday.
Speaking in a televised address beamed by privately-owned television station Zodiak Broadcasting, on Saturday evening, Bushiri said he was in his home country to formally ask the Malawian government to intervene in his court battles in SA.
He argued that the prospects of a fair trial were minimal because of the colour of his skin.
“The investigation [team] is made of five white police officers, the judge is white and a white prosecutor. As a black man in SA I will not have a fair trial,” he said.
“I arrived in Malawi on Wednesday, and my president [Lazarus Chakwera] left for SA the following day [Thursday] I have not met my government. I have not spoken to any government official. I will meet my government on Monday.”
Bushiri said he was not running away from his trial but that he wants to involve the government of his homeland about his concerns surrounding his criminal cases in SA.
He said his SA-based lawyers would on Monday file papers in the high court for his bail not to be revoked.
However, the lawyers, who asked not to be identified, could not confirm this. They were also not willing to comment on any legal relationship with Bushiri going forward.
One of the lawyers, said the team remained in the dark.
“We do not know anything as the lawyers. We have a professional relationship which we can't comment about in the media ...”
The Bushiri's bail conditions included:
- having to report to their nearest police station every Monday and Friday;
- being barred from disposing of any property;
- handing over to the state the original title deed to their property in Midstream Estate, Centurion, to the value of R5.5m; and
- being barred from travel outside the borders of SA and other provinces, except Gauteng and the North West.
The conditions also barred them from threatening witnesses or the investigation and prosecution teams — even while preaching.
Bushiri's move has reportedly left President Cyril Ramaphosa “extremely angry” and law enforcement agencies red-faced. An Interpol Red Alert has been activated for Bushiri as a result.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.