South Africa-based Malawian prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s followers had to wait for eight hours as lawyers tussled in court, eager to convince the Judge to grant the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader and wife, Prophetess Mary Bushiri, a bail on fresh on money laundering charges.
Bushiri, 37, and his wife Mary, 39, appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud and money laundering worth R102-million (about K4.8 billion) on Wednesday after they were arrested by the Hawks the previous day.
The wait didn’t materialize as the State stood in the way, requesting the Court to postpone the bail hearing application while, also, resisting bail.
Bushiri’s lawyers vehemently opposed the State’s stance to the effect that they demonstrated their readiness by submitting bail applications affidavit.
Advocate Anneline van Den Heever, on behalf of the accused, told the court that they were ready to proceed and that the State was not entitled to have the matter postponed.
“When you arrest, you must be ready to proceed. One expects that when one applies for a warrant of arrest in a matter that has been investigated for a prolonged period., the State and investigations team should have their house in order,” she argued before the court.
After a careful examination of the arguments, the Court rolled tha matter over to Friday, 23rd October, 2020 and, also, possibly the bail hearing.
In a statement, Bushiri spokesperson Ephraim Nyondo said they are unhappy with what hey feel is a weaponisation of the criminal justice system.
“The state reserves the right to arrest and prosecute but surely they cannot always arrest and then claim they are not ready to proceed,” he said.
He added that Prophet Bushiri and Prophetess Mary Bushiri have always vehemently stood by their innocence and are resolute in their stance that they are innocent .
Outside the court, Bushiri’s supporters cheered in support to the controversial “prophet”, whom they call “Major One” or “Papa”.
“We are here to support our prophet, major one, who is the only prophet in the whole world. He is a man of God and I believe and I trust that he is not guilty, he is the victim of the plot of the so-called devil,” one of his supporters told eNCA TV.
“There is no way they can take him down because our God is alive and kicking and we are not afraid.”
Bushiri has been referred to as one of the richest religious leaders on the continent, worth an estimated $150-million, and is often pictured with his private jet or luxury vehicles. ECG operates in multiple African countries, with 110 branches and a million worshippers in South Africa, Bushiri said in recent court papers.
Bushiri’s Sandton-based company Shepherd Bushiri Investments (SBI)has interests in mining, real estate, and an airline.
In 2018, Bushiri launched the sprawling Sparkling Waters Hotel and Spa in Ranstenburg.
According to Bushiri, he ventured into business “to support his family as he does not believe the church must support his family.”
The Hawks said Willah Mudolo and Zethu Mudolo were also arrested on Saturday, 17 October in the same case.
Willah Mudolo is the founder of the African Development Funding Group and according to his LinkedInand personal website is a major supporter of former first lady Tobeka Zuma’s foundation. He also leads property development company Rising Estates.
Video clips of Bushiri telling congregants he foresaw that 2020 would be a “great year” have been widely circulated on social media. But the year has been dogged with a lot of battles for Bushiri his rival evangelical pastor Mboro Motsoeneng is accusing the Malawian prophet of swindling church members.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :