The decision was apparently taken by Bongani Bongo, the Home Affairs portfolio committee chairperson, after the DA called on the minister to account for the department’s failure at managing borders.
The Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary are facing charges of theft, money laundering and fraud in connection with an alleged R100-million investment scheme. They were released on R200 000 bail in early November, but last week, the couple fled to their home country of Malawi.
On Monday, the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court granted the Hawks a warrant of arrest for the Bushiris, who escaped the country at the weekend.
The Bushiris fled the country last week and the controversial money-laundering accused pastor announced on Saturday that he had fled to Malawi because he “feared for his safety”, he claimed.
The DA’s spokesperson on Home Affairs, Angel Khanyile, said the party was also urging President Cyril Ramaphosa to speak to Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera to ensure Bushiri was extradited swiftly to South Africa.
“There have been numerous unsubstantiated rumours and allegations that the Bushiris may have fled to their home country on board the Malawian president’s aircraft. And while both Pretoria and Lilongwe have denied these allegations, we urge President Ramaphosa to commission an investigation to test these allegations.
“The Bushiris’ escape has laid bare the inefficiencies within our border management system, which resulted in wanted fugitives passing through them with ease and without detection. This was not only an indictment on Home Affairs, but also on our law enforcement agencies.”
This is of course not the first time that fugitives have fled our country under the cover of “diplomatic immunity”. In 2015, Omar al Bashar managed to skip the country despite facing charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.
“And in 2017, the then Zimbabwean first lady, Grace Mugabe, fled South Africa despite facing criminal charges over allegedly assaulting a model in a Johannesburg-hotel.
“Home Affairs and all the relevant departments such as International Relations, State Security, Police and the Department of Defence need to urgently come together to address the challenges facing our border management processes,” said Khanyile.
Meanwhile, the Hawks earlier warned the Bushiris that they could stand to forfeit their R5.5 million property at the Midstreams Estate in Centurion if the couple failed to present themselves to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
The court issued a warrant for their arrest on Monday.
Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said: “A warrant of arrest has been issued this morning by the Pretoria Magistrate’s court for the two fugitives, Shepherd Bushiri and Mary Bushiri, who contravened their bail conditions when they failed to present themselves at the police station to confirm that they were still in the country.
“The Bushiris’ bail is cancelled thus forfeiting the R200 000 each which they had posted as bail. They will also forfeit their residence should they not present themselves before court on Thursday, 19 November 2020,” said Mogale.
When the Bushiris were granted bail on November 4, the court granted strict bail conditions, such as the couple had to report to the police station every Monday and Friday, they were barred from selling any property, they had to hand over the title deed of their Midstream Estates property to the State and they were barred from travelling outside South Africa after forfeiting their passports.
On Saturday, Bushiri made a list of five demands to the South African government.
That the South African government should assure the couple of their safety and security if and once they returned to the country.
That the South African government assure the family that their bail would not be revoked and that they would be allowed access to their lawyers at all times.
That the police officers and prosecutors involved in investigating, arresting and prosecuting the Bushiris recuse themselves as he had laid a complaint against them two years ago.
That the police officers he laid complaints against should be pursued first until completion, before the Bushiris have their day in court.
That the country should appoint independent investigators and prosecutors to pursue the case against Bushiri.