From ‘coincidental’ meetings to embarrassed officials: 5 stories about Bushiri’s escape

Fugitives Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary continue to make headlines after the couple skipped the country for Malawi while facing charges of fraud, theft and money laundering.

Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary fled to their home country Malawi. Their bail conditions prevented them from leaving SA.
Image: Facebook/Prophet Shepherd Bushiri

The couple fled SA after they were granted bail, following their arrest in October in connection with an alleged R100m “investment scheme”.

In a statement, Bushiri said the decision to go back to Malawi was a “tactical withdrawal” to preserve their lives.

A warrant of arrest for the couple was issued on Monday, and they have both forfeited their R200,000 bail. They will also forfeit their residence should they not appear in the Pretoria magistrate’s court on Thursday

Here are five must-read stories on the Bushiris.

Escape with Lazarus Chakwera is ‘fake news’

Over the weekend, it was alleged the couple fled the country with Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera on Friday following his two-day official visit to the county, where he held talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

However, during a media briefing on Monday, director of communications for the Malawian government, Sean Kampondeni, refuted the claims.

He told the Weekly Brief  it was not Chakwera’s character to guarantee favours to anyone.

Kampondeni said rumours that Chakwera’s administration and the government were somehow involved in Bushiri’s escape were “fake news”.

Ramaphosa ‘extremely angry’ 

The Sunday Times reported that an unnamed senior official at the department of international relations and co-operation (Dirco) said Ramaphosa was “extremely angry” about Bushiri fleeing the country.

The official said Ramaphosa instructed the security cluster ministers to get answers about what happened.

“There are talks underway with Malawi to urgently get the Bushiris back. Home affairs (border management), state security and the police have tough questions to answer.

“An Interpol Red Alert has been activated. In terms of this, all member countries of Interpol will monitor his movements and, once detected, he will immediately be apprehended and handed to the authorities [in SA]. We are engaging our counterparts in Zimbabwe to check if he has not used that country for his escape.”

Home affairs minister to answer tough questions

Parliament’s home affairs portfolio committee invited minister Aaron Motsoaledi to explain how Bushiri and Mary left SA without their passports.

Committee chairperson Bongani Bongo told Sunday Times Daily the committee would convene an urgent meeting on Tuesday and Motsoaledi would have to explain how the Bushiris left.

“It is concerning that a well-known couple was able to leave the republic of SA without being noticed and without passports,” Bongo said.

Escape makes ‘SA look bad’ 

Finance minister Tito Mboweni said the fugitives’ escape made SA “look bad”.

In a series of tweets, Mboweni said a fugitive could not make demands of the government, saying that was “nonsense”

“A whole head of state smuggling a fugitive from justice? Tell me it’s fake news. Unbelievable! Must be fake. Has to be. People must not spread fake news,” he said in one tweet.

Thuli Madonsela weighs in

The former public protector called for justice to be served after Bushiri made demands of the government before he would return to the country.

“What self-proclaimed prophet Bushiri seems unaware of is that the SA government has no power to interfere with the judicial system on bail, including revocation,” she said.

Madonsela said she was hopeful an extradition agreement between SA and Malawi could be put into effect and Bushiri would be held accountable.

TimesLIVE (TMG Digital)

Unathi Nkanjeni

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