South African prosecutors have levelled eight rape charges against Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri whom they accuse of allegedly bribing the purported victims into silence, court documents show.
The documents , expected to be tendered when the local court hears the extradition case of the embattled prophet and his wife Mary, allege that among the victims were 17-year-olds and two sisters who were purportedly drugged, bribed or threatened.
The documents are part of the extradition request South Africa has sent to Malawi ahead of the extradition trial and detail the alleged crimes committed by Bushiri and his wife Mary.
The eight counts of rape date back to 2016 and there are additional charges of fraud, money laundering, jumping bail in South Africa and contravention of the Foreign Currency Act.
The documents show that all the alleged rape cases took place in and around Pretoria and involve women who claim that the Malawian prophet, who was based in South Africa, enticed them into hotels after befriending them and their families at church with offers of special prayers and gifts of cash.
“Many of them believe he received visions from God not knowing that he obtained information beforehand,” allege the South African prosecutors.
Private practice lawyer Wapona Kita, who is representing the Bushiris in their extradition fight in local courts, said the matter is in court; hence, he cannot comment on the prosecutors’ claims.
Bushiri himself has previously rejected all rape allegations levelled against him by women who had spoken out in the media. He accused the women of blackmail.
The flamboyant prophet is also on record as having blamed some officers in the South African Special Crimes Unit known as the Hawks of propagating the allegations as part of an extortion campaign. on.
The extradition trial of the Bushiris is expected to start in Malawi courts in earnest next week after Lilongwe chief resident magistrate Patrick Chirwa refused to recuse himself from the case following an application by Bushiri lawyers.
Currently on police bail, the couple fled South Africa in November last year while on bail for various crimes, including f r a u d a n d m o n e y laundering