Malawian lawyers have said there is no guaranteed timeframes as South African government begins the process to have prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, extradited from Malawi following their bolting from the rainbow nation, saying a formal extradition hearing in the High Court may take time.
Extradition is the formal process where one country asks another to return a person in order to stand trial or to serve a sentence.
The Bushiris are back home in what the prophet described as “temporarily” as a tactical legal withdrawal, claiming that they feared for their lives.
They’re facing fraud, theft and money laundering charges.
Private practice lawyer David Kanyenda writing on his Facebook page pointed out that the Bushiris are expected to a contest their extradition all the way to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
“Expect a protracted and long drawn-out process to play out before a conclusion is reached,” he stated.
“Even an international tribunal such as the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights may come into play. The Bushiris fancy their legal chances on home turf and have already cast doubt on the fairness of a foreign legal system,” he added.
Another private practice lawyer Wapona Kita also pointed out that lawyers will have to battle it out in court whether externalisation of forex and money laundering are extraditable offences under Extradition Act.
A law scholar said a judge at the High Court must also decide if extradition would be disproportionate or would be incompatible with the Bushiris human rights. If the judge decides it would be both proportionate and compatible, extradition must be ordered.
If either the Bushiris will be unhappy with the judge’s decision at the extradition hearing, they may ask the High Court for leave (permission) to appeal at the Supreme Court of Appeal and then evenat African Court on Human and Peoples Rights.
Meanwhile, Bushiri told his supporters that he would be handing himself to the law enforcement agencies in Malawi on Monday.
He claims he was not running away from being prosecuted.
His five demands to the South African government are:
- The South African government should assure the couple of their safety and security if they return to the country.
- Government should assure them that their bail would not be revoked, despite defying their bail conditions.
- The police officers involved in investigating, arresting, and prosecuting the Bushiris should recuse themselves.
- The South African government should ensure all complaints lodged and opened against the officers are investigated before proceeding with the case against them.
- The South African government should appoint “independent and professional investigators, and prosecutors who should make independent decisions on the cases we are allegedly accused of.”
Lawyer Kanyenda noted: “Don’t underestimate the safety and security fears as the South African underworld is brutal.”
Bushiri said there had been attempts on his life and he accused the South African authorities of not offering protection.
The Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader grew up in Mzuzu city in northern Malawi and moved to Pretoria in South Africa where he has been leading his church and so popular that he has been known to fill sports stadiums with followers.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :