Malawian Prophet Shepherd Bushiri (37) claims he and his wife, Mary (39), had to escape SA for their safety, and to request the Malawi government’s assistance in ensuring they receive a fair trial in South Africa. He has also issued five demands he wishes the SA government to meet, before he and his wife will be willing to return to the country. (See below.)
Speaking today during a live stream on Facebook, where he has over 4 million followers, Bushiri said they did not “run away” or “abscond”, but had to leave South Africa because their lives were in danger and because the trial they currently face is unlikely to be fair, while it involves an all-white team and a conflict of interest with investigating officers who he had allegedly already opened a case of extortion against, prior to them arresting him.
During the press briefing in Lilongwe, Bushiri said he plans on Monday to officially speak to his government to ask them to intervene and liaise with their counterparts in South Africa to ensure a fair trial. Bushiri said they arrived in Malawi on Wednesday evening, but have not yet had a chance to speak to the Malawi government because the President left for South Africa the following morning.
Bushiri and his wife are two of four suspects arrested in October for alleged fraud and money laundering worth R102 million. The couple was out on bail.
Bushiri says another couple of reasons he had to go to Malawi is that under the terms of the bail he was not allowed to comment on the case (“what does that tell you? We have human rights,” he said); and that he was not allowed to communicate with any state witness… but was never told the identity of any witness, so would not know if he was breaking that condition.
Bushiri says he would also like the SA government to assure him of his safety (he claims there have been assassination attempts, including one in Sandton in February, and that in 2018 he had to send his young children to school in Malawi for their safety).
Bushiri believes he hasn’t broken the bail conditions because he has broadcast the news today to the world where he is and will present himself to Malawi law enforcement on Monday. His lawyers will submit an “urgent application that my bail should not be revoked as I’ve come here only to seek intervention from the Malawi government to lead to a fair trial”, he said.
The ‘prophet’ insists he wants the trial, because “I would not want to die while I have not yet cleared my name”. As proof he has not absconded he added: “I have not sold any property in SA, nor exchanged any company or transferred any money out of the country. Everything remains as is, but I am here to seek my government’s intervention on Monday, and I believe they will intervene to make sure the SA government intervenes so that I have a fair trial.”
He says one of the investigating officers on immigration issues has himself been arrested for corruption. “There are so many extortion issues. I feel there is vengeance. I’m calling for the justice system of SA to look at these matters seriously,” says Bushiri, whose non-denominational evangelical church Enlightened Christian Gathering is based in Pretoria.
During the broadcast, Bushiri detailed his attempts to bring a case against the officers for extortion in previous years and how he contacted IPID, the National Commission and even the Human Rights Commission for assistance. He said charges against him for the private jet he and his wife purchased are not valid because the law applied to SA citizens only, which they were not; and that he has all the paperwork to prove how they could afford it.
Bushiri claims that as a black man he doesn’t believe he faces a fair trial with five white officers, three white prosecutors and a white judge. He says he would like this “looked at” and an independent group of investigating officers appointed instead of those against whom he opened the case of extortion.
He also insisted that his permanent residence in SA was legally applied for from the SA Embassy in Malawi, and alleged that these officers are now “trying to push immigration to remove my permanent residence”.
WATCH VIDEO Public Address by Prophet Shepherd Bushiri
Full Statement from Prophet Shepherd Bushiri on leaving South Africa for Malawi, and their 5 Demands:
In an earlier statement on Saturday, Bushiri outlined five demands he would like the SA government to meet before he and his wife return to South Africa. He said:
I would like to inform the general public that my wife, Mary, and I are temporarily in our home country, Malawi, because of safety and security issues since 2015. These matters have gotten worse after we both just got our bail.
There have been clear and evident attempts to have myself, my wife and my family killed and despite our several attempts to report to authorities, there has never been State protection.
“Our coming to Malawi, hence, is a tactical withdrawal from the Republic of South Africa solely meant to preserve our lives.
These attempts have been heightened with recent spates of arrests and detentions that we felt the only way for us to clear our names before the law is to ensure that our lives are preserved. My wife and I strongly believe in our innocence but this cannot be proved if our lives are not preserved. We have to be alive to testify to our innocence.
As we stand here, we were arrested in 2019 on allegedly money laundering charges and it’s getting to two years now without trial because the State is not ready to give it.
As we keep waiting for that trial to come, we were arrested again, kept in custody for over two weeks and we are not sure if we will face trial. Equally shocking is the fact that as we kept waiting to get the facts of the recent arrest, the State brought up immigration issues that they, not us, owe the public an explanation. But they want us to explain.
Against this background, we have come to a painful conclusion that what my wife and I have faced in the Republic of South Africa, since 2015, is purely persecution NOT prosecution.
What is shocking is that it was me who, in 2018, opened cases of extortion and intimidation against the officers who are, today, investigating, arresting and prosecuting me and my wife of these several allegations.
Obviously, there can never be independence and impartiality. It’s purely acts of open vengeance. This, I must say, clearly violates rules of natural justice which says justice must not just be done but be seen to be done.
As such, I want to make it clear, here, that our coming to Malawi is not an act of running away from being tried. Not at all.
All my wife and I want is to clear our names in a justice system that is fair, impartial and just. In this vein, I am calling for the following to be met by the Republic of South African authorities to ensure our fair, impartial and just trial.
1. First, I want the South African government to assure us of our safety and security whilst in South Africa.
2. Secondly, I want the South African government to assure us that our bail will not be revoked. Our right to fair trial entails that we have access to our lawyers all the time. Revocation of the bail defeats our right to fair trial and also exposes us to further security and safety challenges.
3. Thirdly, I want the officers involved in investigating, arresting and prosecuting us to recuse themselves. As earlier said, this is the same team that I earlier lodged complaint against and, also, opened cases against. I won’t have a fair trial with their continued involvement.
4. Fourthly, I want the South African State to see to it that all the issues I lodged and opened against these officers must be pursued to their logical conclusion before proceeding with our case.
5. Finally, I want the South African State to appoint independent and professional investigators and prosecutors who should make independent decisions on the cases we are allegedly accused of.
In this regard, I am requesting Malawi government to liaise with the South African government to ensure that the above issues are met.
Once these five issues are met and I am assured of a fair, just and impartial trial, I am willing to avail myself before the South Africa justice system.
I am looking forward to that day because my wife and I have long waited for it to prove our innocence and clear our names.