Embattled Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader ‘prophet’ Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary are expected to seek bail today after spending a night in a Lilongwe police cell in connection with alleged crimes committed in South Africa.
In an interview last evening, lawyer Khumbo Soko, a member of the Bushiris’ legal team, said police only recorded statements from the Bushiris who handed themselves in at National Police Headquarters at Area 30 in Lilongwe following an International Police (Interpol) warrant of arrest.
The Bushiris had their bail in South Africa cancelled after violating conditions, including reporting at a police station and bolting from that country.
Said Soko: “We were in court, but not for the bail application. It [bail application] is expected to be done tomorrow [today].”
His colleague in the legal team, Lusungu Gondwe, said after having their statements recorded by police, expectations were high that the Bushiris would appear before court in the afternoon for bail application.
Gondwe, who is representing the Bushiris alongside Soko and Noel Chalamanda, said the Bushiris were expected to spend a night at Lumbadzi Police Station in Lilongwe pending the court proceedings.
He said: “There is no haste when it comes to legal proceedings. Each step we take must be well measured and fit for its purpose.”
Earlier yesterday, National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera confirmed through a press statement that the Bushiris handed themselves to police after Malawi Police mounted a hunt for them on Tuesday night in reaction to the Interpol alert.
He said the Bushiris were to be recorded statements and later taken to court.
Scores of people, most of them members of the ECG Bushiri leads in Malawi and South Africa, yesterday afternoon gathered at the Judiciary complex in Lilongwe expecting to see the Bushiris. But the people dispersed at dusk when it transpired that the court session would not take place.
The Bushiris alongside two others—Willah Mudolo and Zethu Mudolo—were arrested by members of the Hawks, South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations, for their alleged involvement in fraud and money laundering of R102 million (about K4.6 billion). The Bushiris were released on R200 000 bail bonds (about K10 million each).
As part of their bail conditions, they were also barred from travelling outside South Africa and their movement was restricted to two provinces.
Following the Bushiris’ alleged escape, South Africa on Sunday issued a statement indicating that an extradition process on the couple had commenced. On Monday, South Africa issued a fresh arrest warrant and revoked the couple’s bail.
Meanwhile, as police were recording statements from the Bushiris, civil society organisations operating under the banner of the Malawi Black Economic Empowerment Movement claimed during a media briefing that Bushiri’s life was under threatened in South Africa; hence, should not be extradited until his concerns are addressed.