Minister of Homeland Security Richard Chimwendo Banda has signed extradition papers from the South African Government demanding the return of Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leaders Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary to Pretoria to face criminal charges.
Chimwendo Banda signed the papers yesterday after being served by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
However, the minister refused to comment on the matter, saying Minister of Information Gospel Kazako was better-placed to comment on the matter.
When contacted, Kazako said the government is only following the law by commencing the process, adding it will act within the law on the extradition of the two.
He said: “We have to follow the law. You know, one of the [President Lazarus] Chakwera Hi-5 agenda is upholding the rule of law. So, whatever we are doing, we are only following the rule of law.”
Asked if there are conditions that government will have to set to extradite the Bushiris, considering that the two asked for protection if they were to return to South Africa where they felt unsafe, Kazako said government will just follow the law.
Said the minister: “Whether one has complained or there is any consideration to be made, it has to be within the law. So, we will look at what the law provides. We don’t want to put in any sentimentality or any emotions. We are going to follow the law.
“Just like we have done by preparing the authority to proceed and having it signed by the Minister of Homeland Security, that is the same way all processes will have to be followed.”
Kazako explained that the papers have already been submitted to court and the concerned parties will hear from the court on the next course of action.
The South African Government last week asked Lilongwe to extradite the Bushiris to the Rainbow Nation where they jumped bail and escaped about a month ago while answering fraud and money laundering charges.
A few days after mysteriously appearing in Malawi, the ECG leader made a television address, saying he and his wife had escaped South Africa because their lives were in danger there, stressing that they needed assurance of their safety first if they were to go back to South Africa.
To initiate the extradition process, there was a legal requirement for authority to proceed by Minister of Homeland Security, after which the court has to issue a warrant of arrest.
The Bushiris’ lawyer Wapona Kita declined to comment, saying he was yet to see the government paperwork.
The Malawi Police Service (MPS), acting on an Interpol (International Police) warrant of arrest on the behest of South African authorities, earlier arrested the Bushiris after they had jumped bail and turned up in Malawi.
But Kita challenged their arrests in court, saying the move was illegal as there was no authority from the Minister of Homeland Security and that there was no warrant of arrest from a Malawian court.
The Bushiris were then freed by the court, as there was no authority from the Minister of Homeland Security for the commencement of the extradition process.