The South African government has reiterated its commitment to investigating and swiftly extraditing fugitive evangelical couple, Shepard and Mary Bushiri, who daringly escaped from the country while facing criminal charges.
The couple was on a R200 000 bail each, and the conditions included not being able to travel beyond Gauteng or the North West. However Sunday newspaper reports detailed how the couple was allegedly smuggled far beyond those borders, out of South Africa and to Malawi.
According to the Sunday Independent, it is alleged that the Bushiris were able to leave SA via Lesotho.
However the government claims this report was “unsubstantiated” and includes “false claims and assertions” from “unnamed sources”.
“This story sought to embarrass and implicate the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, and unnamed Ministers in crimes and conspiracy, for which the Sunday Independent has produced absolutely no evidence and will not be able to substantiate,” said Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Director-General, Phumla Williams, in a statement.
Williams said if the publication wished to serve the national interest and ensure justice is done, then it is obliged to report observed crimes to the nearest police station.
“In fact, government encourages all South Africans, who are in possession of information about crimes being committed, to report that to law enforcement agencies, regardless of the status of the person who committed such a crime,” she said.
Williams said the SA government remains committed to keeping South Africans informed on progress at the appropriate time.
“Government cautions the public in South Africa and elsewhere to treat news coverage on this matter with caution and circumspection, in view of baseless reports that emerged this past week,” said the statement.
The SA government says it will use all the “legal instruments” to bring back the couple to South Africa to face criminal charges.
The Bushiris are facing charges relating to theft, money laundering and fraud in connection with an alleged R100 million investment scheme. Their bail conditions had also included reporting to a police station twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays.