The Malawian government has reportedly asked South Africa to make a formal request for the extradition of self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary.
The controversial preacher and his wife fled to their home country sometime earlier this week over apparent fears for their lives. The couple face charges of fraud and money laundering related to an investment scheme to the value of over R102 million.
Earlier this month the couple were granted bail of R200 000 each by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court and part of their bail conditions forbid them from leaving the country. Bushiri, known for his extravagant lifestyle, has yet to face his criminal trial.
According to an eNCA report, Malawian Information Minister Gospel Kazako said there was nothing the country could do, other than to wait for formal communication from South African authorities.”He is in this country and we are not hiding that. What we are saying here is, let us have formal and official contact. We know the treaties, we know the agreement, we know so many things that bind us together from South Africa, but we will not be dealing with this in an informal way.”
Kazako said the Malawian government had not received any request which would enable them to give their position on the matter.
“It is prudent for us to wait until the South African government makes contact with us,” he told the broadcaster.
Kazako also denied allegations that Bushiri had caught a flight on President Lazarus Chakwera’s plane out of South Africa, saying Chakwera was “one of the very few honest presidents remaining in this world”.
Bushiri claimed that he flew out of South Africa on Wednesday, but this has not been confirmed by authorities.
According to the Sunday Times, the couple absconded some time between Monday and Friday. Chakwera’s delegation is believed to have landed in SA on Thursday and departed on Friday. Chakwera has denied any prior knowledge of Bushiri’s escape, but questions have been raised about the timing of his visit, as well as a seven-hour delay in his departure.
In an over-20-minute rant on Saturday evening, Bushiri said if he was running away from any trial, he would never have released a statement announcing that he was in Malawi.
He said he arrived in Malawi on Wednesday and had not yet been in contact with the government because, at the time he arrived, President Chakwera was leaving for South Africa.
Bushiri said he was in his home country because he was a citizen who was seeking intervention from the government. He said he needed assurances for his safety from the South African government.
Bushiri added his life had been in danger on many occasions and, as a result, he had opened a case after he was almost shot. He said he had also opened cases against the investigating officers who had arrested him and nothing had happened to them, and he therefore felt there was a conflict of interest.
He said he believed he would not have a fair trial if the same people whom he had opened cases against, prior to them arresting him, were also involved in the case.
In February this year, I almost got shot in Sandton at a filling station. I opened a case in SA, there is footage, I think Sandton police are aware of this case. Until today, nothing has been done. I feel my life is not safe in South Africa. So many times I have had attempts of assassinations. I feel my life and my wife’s life is not safe. I wouldn’t want to die when my name is not cleared. This is the reason why I decided to come to Malawi.
Bushiri said he was calling on the South African government to institute independent investigators. He said he would formally be meeting with the Malawian government to assist him and engage with the South African government regarding his safety.
Kazako however told eNCA that no contact had been made and that the Malawian government was unaware of Bushiri’s exact whereabouts at this stage. -news24