How did Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, escape the country? Well, that was the question that even Parliament and the country’s Home Affairs minister were still pondering, more than five days after he apparently skipped bail and fled to Malawi.
The Bushiris were now fugitives and wanted by the South African government, after fleeing the country several days after being released out on bail on 4 November.
On Tuesday morning, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi appeared before Parliament’s portfolio committee to explain how Bushiri and his wife fled South Africa.
Motsoaledi said the couple did not use any of their multiple passports, nor did they fly out with the president of Malawi.
During the briefing, Motsoaledi explained the Department of Home Affairs’ role in the Bushiri case and explained that the department was told to back off when the Bushiris were being investigated, after being arrested for the first time in 2019.
“We need to revoke their permanent resident status,” Motsoaledi said.
Motsoaledi further said his department, along with others including justice, police, state security, defence and international relations should also take responsibility for the Bushiris’ absconding.
He further confirmed the that couple did not skip the country with any of their five passports.
“Bushiri has five passports, all issued in Malawi, Mary Bushiri also has five passports.”
He said the allegation that Bushiris skipped through Lesotho via a chartered flight was also dismissed.
“They did not go with the president of Malawi through our port of entry or use their passports,” he said.
The committee further heard that the Bushiri’s applied for permanent residency in 2016 in South Africa and it was granted the same year.
He said the department’s movement control system indicated that the last time the Bushiris officially went through any port in South Africa was on 19 January 2019, when they entered through the OR Tambo International Airport.
On Monday, a warrant for their arrest was granted by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court for the two fugitives.
They were also instructed to report to the court on 19 November or they would forfeit their house.