Two weeks ago, Malawi government signed the extradition papers to begin the process of extraditing Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, to South Africa.
The South African government had earlier written Malawi government requesting the extradition of the two, who—facing fraud and money laundering charges—left the rainbow nation citing security reasons and, also, because they were certain they would never get a fair trial.
The public reaction to the news that Malawi government had, finally, signed the extradition papers was somehow of a shock to many.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) cautioned Malawi government against rushed decisions in handling the extradition processes.
Senior Chief Lukwa and paramount chief Kyungu raised similar issues HRDC put through, underlining that government need to be careful because the Bushiris had raised issues which Malawi government needed to have given an ear to before proceeding with signing the papers.
The question is: What issues did the Bushiris brought through and has government given them a platform to express them?
Just after their arrival in Malawi, the Bushiris made it very that there had been clear and evident attempts in South Africa to have himself, his wife and family killed and, despite several attempts to report to authorities, there has never been State protection.
Further, the Bushiri argued that with how events unfolded—arrests, not trial, arrests again, kept in prison for over two weeks—they had come to a painful conclusion that what they were facing South Africa, since 2015, is purely persecution NOT prosecution.
They added that what is shocking is that it was him [Bushiri] who, in 2018, opened cases of extortion and intimidation against the officers who were investigating, arresting and prosecuting him and his wife of these several allegations.
Against such a background, Bushiri noted that there can never be independence and impartiality as it will purely be acts of open vengeance.
The Bushiris, then, made 5 requests to the South African government which, upon the granting, the couple would return to South Africa to face their trial.
- First, he wanted the South African government to assure them of our safety and security whilst in South Africa.
- Secondly, he wanted the South African government to assure them that their bail will not be revoked. He noted that his right to fair trial entails that they have access to their lawyers all the time. He argued that revocation of the bail defeats their right to fair trial and also exposes them to further security and safety challenges.
- Thirdly, he wanted the officers involved in investigating, arresting and prosecuting us to recuse themselves as this is the same team that he had earlier lodged complaint against and, also, opened cases against.
- Fourthly, he wanted the South African State to see to it that all the issues he lodged and opened against these officers must be pursued to their logical conclusion before proceeding with our case.
- Finally, he wanted the South African State to appoint independent and professional investigators and prosecutors who should make independent decisions on the cases we are allegedly accused of.
As expected the South African government ignored all the issues Bushiri raised and just went on offensive, pushing Malawi government to sign the extradition papers.
But one expected that Malawi government would have ignored the offensive South African route and, at least, given a platform for Bushiri to explain his story.
Most Malawians, as it stands now, don’t have clear a picture of why Bushiri and his wife left South Africa. All what Malawians know is the version of South African government that the Bushiri fled from being tried in South Africa, as such; they must be brought back to face trial.
However, the Bushiris have insisted that they never fled South Africa but left because their lives were at risk and, also, because they were certain that they were not going to face a fair trial. They argued that if these two are rectified, they are ready to return to South Africa.
So when will Malawi Government create a platform for Bushiri to express himself to fellow Malawians?Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :