Self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church Shepherd Bushiri says there is nothing sinister about him and his wife Mary having 10 passports.
Bushiri took to Facebook on Wednesday morning to respond to remarks made by home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi before parliament on Tuesday explaining the couple’s escape to Malawi last week.
Motsoaledi told MPs the fugitives have five passports each, none of which are South African. He said the department has all their passport numbers and had established that none of them were used to skip SA.
“I must emphasise that Mr Bushiri has five passports. None of them are South African. They were all issued in Malawi. We’ve got their passport numbers. Mrs Bushiri also has five passports,” he said.
Bushiri said the minister’s comments created the wrong impression, and “strengthened my fear that I will not get a fair trial in SA”.
“The impression is that these are passports with different names and details. Once again, this issue is before the high court in SA. For the record, my wife and I have passports, each one of which is a diplomatic passport and one is a normal passport. We submitted all these passports to the investigating officer in SA.
“Because we are frequent travellers due to the work of our ministry, the other passports are full. However, they have international visas so we kept them. There is nothing sinister about that,” said Bushiri.
He denied that he had fled to Malawi to seek “political intervention”, but “justice before the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi”.
Bushiri also said he would hand himself over to the authorities to “legally” defend his decision to skip SA for his home country.
About two hours after Bushiri released the statement, reports emerged that he and his wife had been arrested at their home in Lilongwe after a raid by Malawian authorities.
Sunday Times Daily quoted an unconfirmed report from a local publication, which stated 15 police officers were involved in their arrest.
Hawks spokesperson Katlego Mogale confirmed on Wednesday that a second warrant of arrest had been issued for the couple after they failed to appear before the Pretoria high court. The warrant was issued on Tuesday.
The Bushiris were granted bail of R200,000 each by the Pretoria magistrate’s court two weeks ago. They were arrested in October and face charges of fraud, money laundering and theft relating to an “investment scheme” amounting to R102m.
Their bail conditions included that the couple may only travel between Gauteng and the North West. They were also required to report to their nearest police station every Monday and Friday.
TimesLIVE (TMG DIgital)