South Africa has started the official extradition process in order to return Shepherd Bushiri, and his wife Mary, to the country to stand trail for fraud, theft and money laundering in connection with an investment scheme worth R102 million.
On Sunday afternoon, government spokesperson Phumla Williams, said in a statement the extradition from Malawi will be requested in terms of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Extradition “and other legal instruments, to which Malawi is a signatory”.
This is to ensure that “the two fugitives face justice”.
“While this process is underway, law-enforcement agencies will continue investigations into this matter.”
Bushiri and his wife fled from South Africa to Malawi this week. According to the self-proclaimed prophet during a televised address on Saturday, they arrived in their home country on Wednesday evening.
During the speech, Bushiri was adamant that he did not want to abscond from standing before a judge, but that he feared for his life and believed that he would not receive a free and fair trail.
“I believe in the law and I am a law abiding citizen,” he said.
Presidential connection false
It is unknown how the Enlightened Christian Gathering leader managed to leave South Africa. There has been significant speculation that the Malawian President may have been involved since news emerged that his flight home had been delayed by several hours.
The Malawian leader was on a working visit to South Africa and met with President Cyril Ramaphosa in Tshwane on Friday.
Besides the Malawian government vehemently denying this on Saturday, Williams also put an end to the rumour.
“Government is able to confirm that (the) fugitives … did not leave South Africa aboard a flight on which President Lazarus Chakwera and his delegation travelled.
We are praying that you will have a blessed Sunday as you worship and praise the Lord.
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Williams added that “President Chakwera and his delegation departed from Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria and stopped over at OR Tambo International Airport to collect an additional number of officials who had travelled to South Africa earlier to prepare for the working visit.
“Department of Home Affairs immigration officials verified the identities of all passengers and Mr and Ms Bushiri were not on the flight.
“When travellers are processed for departure, they are required to present themselves to an immigration officer who, among other checks, verifies that the passport belongs to the traveller,” she said.
Bushiri to approach his government
On Saturday, Bushiri said that he would be approaching the Malawian government for assistance on Monday.
He also had a number of demands for the South African government to meet before he said he would return and stand trail.
These include assurances of his “safety and security” and that his bail would not be revoked. One of his bail conditions was that he was not allowed to leave South Africa.
“Our right to fair trial entails that we have access to our lawyers all the time. Revocation of the bail defeats our right to fair trial and also exposes us to further security and safety challenges,” he said.
He also wanted the “investigating, arresting and prosecuting us to recuse themselves”.
Bushiri has stated that police officers tried to extort money from him in 2018 and that is when his legal woes started. He also stated that he had lodged complaints against the investigating officers.