Some members of civil society and faith groups have asked government to intervene in the ongoing legal battles facing South Africa-based Malawian prophet Shepherd Bushiri and bring him back home.
Briefing the media in Lilongwe yesterday, Malawi Watch executive director Billy Banda and Anthony Mukumbwa—a commissioner of the Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC) and a close friend of Bushiri—alleged that Bushiri was being targeted by investigating agencies and receiving unfair treatment from the legal system in South Africa.
Said Banda: “We are not saying that the Bushiris are guilty or not, that is for the courts to decide. The courts must give the Bushiris a trial in a manner that is fair, just and impartial. At the same time, they [Bushiris] must enjoy the status of being innocent until proven guilty.”
He said the Malawi Government should intervene in the saga because Bushiri holds a diplomatic passport; hence, the South African authorities were in breach of international conventions on diplomatic relations.
On his part, Mukumbwa said the group will call off planned nationwide protests to allow the authorities in Malawi and South Africa pursue diplomacy.
He said if diplomacy will not yield anything, the group will stage the protests.
Bushiri and co-accused persons, including his wife Mary, are awaiting bail application ruling which was shelved last week to this Friday.
Bushiri, who is head of Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), faces fraud charges involving about K4.6 billion (R102 million) following their arrest by South Africa’s special serious organised crimes unit, the Hawks.
The Bushiris were also arrested in February 2019 and face separate charges of fraud, money laundering and the contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca) for offences they allegedly committed from 2015.
Additionally, last week, the Ministry of Home Affairs in South Africa confirmed it was investigating how the couple acquired South African permanent residence permit.
The couple was arrested alongside Willah Mudolo and Zethu Mudolo who have since appeared in the Pretoria Magitstrate’s Court and their case was postponed to 30 October 2020 for formal bail application.