SOWETAN-(PRETORIA)-The Controversial prophet Shepherd Bushiri has hired top legal mind advocate Barry Roux to defend him and his wife against fraud and money laundering charges.
Roux represented murderer Oscar Pistorius during his much-publicised trial in 2014 for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He is estimated to be charging up to R50,000 a day.
Bushiri, 35, and his wife Mary, 37, made a brief appearance at the packed Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court yesterday.
Bushiri’s lawyer advocate A. Hattingh told magistrate Martin van Wyk that Roux will represent the pair when they apply for bail on Wednesday.
Dozens of supporters flooded Visagie Street in the CBD from morning until noon, pledging their support for the “Major 1”, as Bushiri is popularly known among his congregants. They demanded that the couple be released.
Among Bushiri’s loyalists was Incredible Happenings leader Paseka Motsoeneng, better known as Mboro.
The couple’s lawyer also handed their passports to prosecutor Salome Veenemans, who said she would verify their status with the department of home affairs.
The couple stand accused of fraud, money laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca). This, according to City Press newspaper, emanated from Bushiri’s purchase of his private jet in 2015 where he paid $1,147,200 (R15.3m) in cash – in contravention of exchange regulations.
Roux will represent the pair when they apply for bail tomorrow. The couple held their hands together throughout the proceedings. They were arrested by the Hawks at a hotel in Rustenburg, North West, on Friday. Hawks spokesperson Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi said the charges were not a personal attack on Bushiri.
“We are talking about issues of Poca, where we are making allegations that there were monies that were used illegally during the transaction of some of the assets that Mr Bushiri has,” Mulaudzi said.
“People should not take this as a personal attack. There were issues that were raised with us and as law enforcement agency we have a responsibility to investigate this case.”
Motsoeneng said he stood by Bushiri.
“I am not in a position to pass judgement here but I stand by him as a brother and prophet,” Mboro said.
“It saddens me. Being locked up in that place… is not nice.”