Bail hearing involving South Africa-based Malawian prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary Bushiri has been postponed to Monday by the Pretoria Magistrates Court as the couple continue to remain on remand at Kgosi Mampuru prison.
The couple got arrested on October 20 and charged with fraud and money laundering.
The Magistrate presiding over the case Thandi Theledi said she could not, in any case, have made the ruling on Friday as the State opposed to the bail application for various grounds.
The court heard earlier from the State that, among other things, the Bushiris held diplomatic Malawian passports, that their status in South Africa was currently under investigations by Home Affairs, and that the pair misled the court about their “living arrangements” in South Africa.
“The statement that they live in a normal family setting in South Africa is not true,” the State argued. “The children travel to and from South Africa for school holidays – they are listed un schools in Malawi and their support structure is there.”
In addition, the State argued that the release of the Bushiri, who is head of Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), could disturb public peace as members of the public were divided on the matter, and that it could lead to the intimidation of witnesses, who were known to the accused.
Bushiri – in a supplementary affidavit before the court – said that all his passports have been handed over and confirmed that he and his wife hold diplomatic passports from Malawi but it was also handed over to the Hawks investigative team.
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“I deny that any offence was ever committed by me. I have no reasons to run away. I have no reason to evade my trial as I need to vindicate myself,” Bushiri is quoted as saying in his affidavit.
The Bushiri’s was arrested alongside Willah Mudolo and Zethu Mudolo. The State argued that Mudolo pose “a flight risk” as he attempted to flee the country on three occasions .
Adjourning the matter to Monday, the Magistrate said she is yet to go through all the affidavits and documents submitted for and against the bail application by the Bushiris and their co-accused.
However, the magistrate decision has riled some who have expressed their disgust arguing there could be a conspiracy against the ECG leader.
“We suspect foul play but are not going give up, victory belongs to Jesus. We have already heard in the spirit.
“Because words in the spirit are object, God will give our Prophet and Prophetess victory. We are standing with you our spiritual parents,” said one follower.
The arguments between parties will resume on Monday and thereafter a judgement will be handed down on the Bushiris’ bail application.
Bushiris spokesperson Ephraim Nyondo was not available for immediate comment.