Bail has been granted for the self-proclaimed prophet, Shepherd Bushiri, and others accused of theft, money laundering, and fraud in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday morning.
It was D-day for Bushiri, his wife Mary, Landiwe Ntlokwana, and Willah Mudolo and wife Zethu, who heard judgment in their bail applications. The five accused were arrested in October.
Magistrate Thandi Thelede granted bail to all accused except Willah Mudolo, and warned them not to interfere with the State’s case or to contact witnesses.
Bushiri and his wife’s bail has been fixed at R200,000 each.
Zethu Mudolo, who may be named but not photographed, was granted bail of R20,000.
Ntlokwana was granted bail of R100,000.
The Bushiri couple were told not to leave South Africa until the case against them was finalised.
Outside the court, members of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church again showed up in their numbers to show their support for their leader and his co-accused in court.
Willah Mudolo’s bail application was postponed until Friday.
Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Monday that his department had uncovered evidence that the Bushiris entered the country using visitors’ visas, and opted to conduct business, which is not allowed.
Two previous notices sent to the Bushiris explaining details in their permanent residence applications were also withdrawn. The latest one was sent out in August, just two months before they were arrested.
The couple have been in the country since 6 September 2009.
The formal bail application began on Monday in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, with Magistrate Thandi Thelede hearing the State’s arguments as to why the five accused should not be granted bail.
The State deems all five suspects to be flight risks, especially the Bushiris, as they possess multiple passports and are not South African citizens.
Advocate Annelene van der Heever, who is representing Bushiri, his wife and Ntlokwana, argued that her clients were not flight risks, saying that if they wanted to flee they would have done so when they were first arrested in February last year.
However, the State said on Monday that Ntlokwana had not yet handed in her current or expired passports.
Updates to follow as more information is made available.