Calm, confident, majestic and stately could be words to describe how Prophet Shepherd Bushiri known as Major 1 and wife, holding hands, entered the Pretoria magistrate court for the first hearing of their case.
Flanked by his lawyers and a swarm of police officers, Bushiri—who kept sharing jokes with his wife and some officers close to him—was majestic in his fashionable designer suits and his wife in well-tailored white dress.
As they were making their way into the court, thousands had already gathered outside the court in solidarity with the founder and leader of the Christian non-denominational evangelical church known as the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) .
Most of them were carrying placards bearing the ‘NO MAJOR 1 NO VOTE’.
Renowned church leaders such Prophet Mboro and senior Prophet Justice Hara were also at the court in solidarity with the Prophet.
Even leaders of Sanco and Black First Land (BLF) first were there.
The hearing of the case has been postponed to Wednesday. Thousands are expected to turn to the streets again in support of Major 1.
Bushiri and his wife Mary were arrested last week in Rustenburg and face charges relating to money laundering, fraud and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. The Hawks say their investigation extends back to 2015, when the incidents allegedly took place.
According to Times Live of South Africa, Bushiri raised eyebrows in 2017 when he bought his daughter a R1.6m Maserati for her sixth birthday and posted the picture of the Maserati on his Facebook page with a caption wishing his daughter a happy birthday.
City Press reported that an affidavit from the Hawks states that Bushiri’s wife, “Prophetess Mary”, purchased a jet for R15.3m (in cash, nogal) which allegedly contravened the exchange control regulations.
In the report, Times Live also cites Malawian publication,Nyasa Times reported that Bushiri bought a multimillion-dollar hotel in Rustenburg, North West, last year called Sparkling Waters Hotel and Spa which is one of eight that the Bushiri owns in different countries under SB Hotels.
Bushiri and his wife were arrested at Sparkling Waters last week.
Authorities had already filed an application at the High Court in Pretoria, seeking its permission to seize the Bushiris’ luxury houses and cars, as well as the self-styled prophet’s Gulfstream private jet, which is parked in a private hangar at Lanseria Airport outside Johannesburg.
The Prophet’s spokesman Ephrain Nyondo has played down charges of fraud and insists Bushiri is a prophet and not a fraudster.
“Prophet Shepherd Bushiri is a man of God, ordained by God and whatever he does, he does under the authority for God,” Nyondo told 702 News.
Nyondo claims that Bushiri says his church is funded by various businesses he owns.
“There is a difference between Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, the minister at Enlightened Christian Gathering Church and Bushiri the entrepreneur and that distinction should be clear.
“The church is managed by directors in all the branches across the world and we have 178 branches across the world and we have a corporate office that manages all these branches,” he said.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :