JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Controversial pastor Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary, who were arrested earlier this week on fraud charges, are now accused of using fraudulent documents to enter and remain in South Africa.
The couple’ s permanent residency status in South Africa is being probed by Home Affairs.
Bushiri and his wife Mary are spending the weekend behind bars after their bail application was postponed until Monday.
The couple have previously indicated that they intend to plead not guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering involving R106 million. They are accused alongside Landiwe Sindani, 37.
During the court proceedings on Friday, the State revealed that it was in possession of an affidavit from the Department of Home Affairs in which Bushiri and his wife Mary’s status in the country was still unclear.
According to Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Bushiri and Mary arrived on visitor visas in 2009.
Motsoaledi said upon arrival, Bushiri registered companies and started conducting business. Something, Motsoaledi said, was not allowed in terms of visitors visa and immigration law and is a chargeable offence.
“When Bushiri applied for permanent residency, he made a declaration under oath that he entered the country in 2015 when our records show he entered in 2009.”
With regards to Mary, Motsoaledi said after her initial entry into South Africa in 2009 with a visitor’s visa, she re-entered the country in 2012.
“She produced a permanent residency visa which was given to her in 1997, long before she entered the country. It was fraudulent,” he said.
The department has in the meantime issued a notice to the couple, asking them to clarify discrepancies in their applications for permanent residency.