PRETORIA, South Africa – Self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri, who fled South Africa for Malawi just days after being granted bail, told his followers on Saturday that he was a law abiding citizen who had no intention to evade standing trial on the fraud charges against him.
In a Facebook live broadcast on Saturday night, Bushiri told his followers that a number of police officer tried to extort money from him between 2017 and 2018.
He claimed that they threatened to arrest him on what he claims was trumped up money laundering charges. Bushiri also claimed that he was forced to send his children to Malawi for their safety.
According to Bushiri, he reported the threats to various ministers and high-ranking law enforcement officials, including former state security minister Bongani Bongo and former intelligence boss Arthur Fraser, and even took the matter to Ipid where cases were opened against the five police officers.
According to him, his private jet was attached on money laundering charges, despite him never being charged with such an offence.
Bushiri claims that the same police officers who he had laid complaints against subsequently arrested him for fraud committed by individuals connected to his Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church. He says that he, along with his partners, raised over R50 million to help people swindled by the unnamed individuals.
Bushiri also claimed that numerous attempts have been made to assassinate him, including an incident in Sandton in February of this year for which police have as yet failed to make any arrests.
He also claimed that one of the police officers who arrested him on immigration charges is currently being investigated for corruption in a different matter.
He said he would ask the Malawi government to intervene in the matter and:
1. seek assurances from the South African government that he would be safe;
2. ensure that the officials who are allegedly targeting him be removed from the case so that he can receive a fair trial.
He also claimed that as a black person the fact that he was arrested by white police officers and appeared before a white judge makes it impossible for him to be tried fairly.
According to Bushiri, his lawyers will on Monday make an application to the court that his bail not be revoked. He says he will present himself to Malawian law enforcement officials as proof that he is not trying to evade justice.
“I believe in the justice system of South Africa and I believe that if independent investigators could be appointed I could recieve a fair trial,” Bushiri said.
The Hawks on Saturday confirmed that Bushiri and his wife, Mary, contravened the conditions of their bail.
The ECG church leaders returned to Malawi, citing safety and security issues.
The couple – who were earlier this month released on R200,000 bail each – said they temporarily returned to their home country “because of safety and security issues since 2015, matters that got worse when we just got out on bail”.
Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said that investigators and prosecutors have been working tirelessly since the couple failed to report to the police station.
“There are unconfirmed reports that Prophet Bushiri and his wife have absconded from South Africa which is in contravention of their bail conditions as set in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court,” Mogale said in a statement.
“At this stage, we can confirm that he did not report at the police station as requested and agreed upon which is also an act of contravention of court order.
“Investigators together with prosecutors have been working tirelessly since it came to light that he did not report at the police station. The current posts purporting to be issued by Bushiri who is said to be in Malawi are being authenticated and verified.”
She said that an investigation around the failure to comply with the court order was underway.
On November 4, Magistrate Thandi Theledi, granted the Bushiris and two other co-accused, bail in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court and stressed the four were to adhere to certain conditions, failing which the State would be obligated to revoke their bail.
Theledi granted the Bushiris R200 000 bail each.
As part of their bail conditions, the Bushiris had to hand in the title deed for their Centurion property as a guarantee and they were barred from travelling anywhere else in South Africa.
Theledi said they could only travel within Gauteng and North West until the case was finalised.
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