Enlightened Christian Gathering founder Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and wife Mary have made a fresh preliminary application in the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court to have their extradition case referred to the Constitutional Court (ConCourt).
According to the Bushiris’ lawyer Wapona Kita, the whole case lacks a basis as it relies on a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) protocol to be used in the Malawian court.
“Our application is to have the entire extradition request thrown out for lack of a legal basis and we further ask the court to refer the matter to the Chief Justice of Malawi for interpretation as the matter is related to the application of the Constitution,” said Kita after chief resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa adjourned the case to Friday for ruling on the fresh application.
According to Kita, Malawi signed the Sadc extradition protocol, which requires member States to domesticate the protocol before using it in their respective countries but Malawi is yet to do that.
He further recommended that three judges of the High Court will have to sit as a quasi “Constitutional Court” to determine if the treaty is applicable in expediting a local matter.
After the fresh application, the State through Director of Public Prosecutions Steve Kayuni argued that there was no need for a fresh application since the same court ruled as such in a previous appearance.
He said: “The application should be ignored since in the previous appearance, the same court ruled that there should be no further applications relating to this matter.”
However, magistrate Chirwa ruled against the State, saying even though he had earlier said there should be no more preliminary applications, he had no option, but to entertain the latest application.
“Its reasons are compelling to the point that the court cannot ignore them. The matter relates to the interpretation of the Constitution and law. Therefore, it cannot be ignored,” he said.
The South African government wants the Bushiris extradited to answer charges of fraud and money laundering.
They jumped bail in South Africa and dramatically fled back to Malawi reportedly due to threats and intimidation in the rainbow nation.