LILONGWE-(MaraviPost)-Concerned Malawians under the banner JUSTICE FOR BUSHIRI’ movement on Wednesday, October 28, 2020 demanded quick and fair trial on Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Marry’s R102 money laundering and fraud charges.
The call comes after couple was arrested on October 2020 that their bail applications have been denied for three times.
Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church leader Prophet Bushiri along his wife Marry are still in police custody till Friday, October 30, 2020 when their bail applications will be heard.
Prophet Bushiri and his wife Marry on Monday, October 26 appeared before Pretoria Magistrates Court for bail application and hearing.
Addressing the news conference in the capital the group’s leaders Billy Banda of Malawi Watch and Dr Anthony Mukumbwa observed that South Africa’s police agency Hawks has been unfair on the couple.
Banda observes that Hawks has personal vendetta towards the couple regarding to unfair treatment; withholding of travel documents for the past two years.
Dr Mukumbwa echoed on the same saying if South Africa government has no case on the couple must allow them to conduct their business than mistreating them.
“What we want is the man of God and his wife to be fairly prosecuted with speed than the current state quo,”
Below is the full statement:
CALL FOR BUSHIRI TO BE BROUGHT BACK HOME: SEEKING HAND OF MALAWI GOVERNMENT
- WHO ARE WE?
We are a grouping of concerned Malawians, calling ourselves ‘JUSTICE FOR BUSHIRI’ movement.
Our membership is voluntary. We have lawyers, vendors, traditional leaders, politicians, faith leaders, CSOs, students, doctors and just every sector our society.
So far, according to our records, we have tens of thousands people in this movement in the country.
Our movement is a response to the disturbing, appalling and unacceptable status quo involving two of Malawi’s citizens currently living in South Africa namely Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Prophetess Mary Bushiri.
- WHY THE BUSHIRIS?
• Prophet Bushiri and his wife, Mary, are all Malawians—they are one of us.
• Prophet Bushiri is a high profile figure both as a business person and, also, as a spiritual leader of one biggest church in the world
• Prophet Bushiri is a humanitarian. Each and every year, he devotes millions of kwacha feeding the hungry every year, he builds schools and he supports several students with bursary schemes.
• Prophet Bushiri is an employer through some of the companies that he runs in Malawi
For someone with such a stature in society, we believe that his pain is our pain and as a nation we cannot sit idle watching him trapped in a web of suffering.
- BUSHIRI’S APPALLLING STATUS: WHY WE ARE CONCERNED
? On 1st February 2019, Prophet Bushiri and his wife were arrested by the Hawks and charged with charged with fraud, money laundering and contravention of exchange regulations.
They were granted bail on February 10 2019.
Since then, they have appeared before the Courts four times, and on each occasion, their case has postponed at the request of State, saying they are unprepared.
Their next appearance is on May 31 2021.
Our question is: When they were making this arrest, the State said they had ‘overwhelming evidence’. By May 31 2021, this case will have clock 3 years without trial. Is this prosecution or persecution?
? As said earlier, the condition of being granted bail was that they surrender all there travelling documents to Police. Their mobility was restricted to only two provinces namely Gauteng and North West.
Our question is: How do you remand a person for three years, restricting all his movement yet you don’t give him a trial?
? On October 20 2020, the Prophet and his wife were arrested, again, by Hawks and charged with fraud and money laundering. But look here:
• This fresh arrest came barely three days after the couple appeared before High Court where the 2019 case was postponed to May 31 2021.
• They appeared before Court on October 21 to seek bail, only to have the matter postponed to Friday October 23 because the State was opposed hearing of the bail, arguing the couple must not be released because, one, they are a flight risk and, two, they might tamper with evidence.
• On October 23, the Magistrate ruled that bail hearing will be heard. However, after Bushiri’s lawyer made the submissions, the Magistrate postponed the hearing to Monday citing time factor.
• On October 26, the Magistrate began hearing other cases and never heard Bushiri’s and, eventually, postponed the hearing of Bushiri’s case to Friday, 30th October.
Our question: Why is he being treated in this targeted way? Bail is a right, but why does it seem so problematic to hear his application?
? As we are talking here, there is news circulating around alleging that Prophet Bushiri and his wife are in South Africa illegally and they face deportation.
This is what we know.
Prophet Bushiri and Prophetess have a permanent residential status in South Africa duly and legally issued by the Home Affairs Department.
However, between February 6 2019 and March 26 2019, the Home Affairs, through some officer there, issued three notices asking Prophet Bushiri and Prophetess Mary to explain how they got the residential status—as if the couple issued the status by themselves.
Interestingly, two of those notices were withdrawn by the Courts and the third one was declared by the Courts as ‘irrational, unlawful and invalid’.
Notwithstanding that, the Home Affairs issued another notice, this time on August 2 2020, giving Prophet Bushiri and Prophetess Bushiri 30 days to explain how they got the permanent residence.
Prophet Bushiri’s lawyers challenged the notice and the High Court, on 21 October 2020, suspended the notice until May 31 2020 after the couple takes a plea in the 2019 case.
We also read that the Home Affairs will challenge that High Court ruling.
Our question: Why then do we hear about deportation, about being in South Africa illegally when it’s clear here that the Courts said the Bushiris must respond to the notice next year after entering plea on May 31 2021?
- OUR PLEA
From the points raised above, it is becoming clear that the Prophet Bushiri and Prophetess Mary Bushiri are facing more than just what they keep being arrested upon.
This Movement, we must underline, is not saying the Bushiris are not guilty or not—that is for Courts to decide. The Courts must give the Bushiris a trial in a manner that is fair, just and impartial; at the same time, they must enjoy the status of being innocent until proven guilty.
However, we are coming in because we have noted that the Bushiris are already being treated as guilty.
That is why we are asking for the following:
? The Bushiri’s 2019 Case has dragged for so long and their travel restrictions are weighing on their lives.
We are asking the Malawi Government to engage the South Africa Government to have the Bushiris brought back home. They must be free from this prolonged remand. They should be answering their charges while in Malawi.
? Their incarceration from October 20 to date is worrying with continued postponement of their bail hearing.
We are asking for Malawi Government to intervene through finding out from their counterpart from South Africa as to what, specifically, is happening necessitating these worrying postponements.
? The Bushiris are holders of the Malawi Diplomatic Passports. There are international Conventions that protect the treatment of diplomats across the world in cases such as this.
We are therefore calling on Malawi Government to engage the South African Government on this. The statutes must be invoked; the Bushiris must be brought back to Malawi.
? If South African Government is convinced that the Bushiris were issued with fraudulent resident permanent status in South Africa, then they must decide and send the Bushiris back home.
We are therefore asking Malawi Government to take up the issue and ensure the Bushiris are brought home than trapping them in prolonged incarceration.
We are certain and convinced that Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, are in a precarious situation in South Africa and, as their fellow citizens, we have a duty to lay a hand.
Our wish is to have the Prophet back home because we still love him here.
That is why we are calling on Malawi Government to intervene and make necessary arrangements with the South African Government to have the Bushiris home.
Malawi wants him back!