Home Affairs Minister Motsoaledi left seething after Bushiris skip country

The couple was out on bail after being arrested for their alleged involvement in fraud and money laundering worth over R100 million.

FILE: Pastor Shepherd Bushiri (R), also known as Prophet Bushiri from the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG), stands on stage while his wife, Mary Bushiri, speaks to worshippers during the United Prayers Crossover at the FNB Stadium in Soweto on 1 January 2020. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has told Eyewitness News that he was extremely angry and deeply concerned about fugitives Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, skipping the country because he suspected something like this would happen.

The couple was out on bail after being arrested for their alleged involvement in fraud and money laundering worth over R100 million. The Pretoria Magistrates Court granted the Bushiris bail, convinced that they were not a flight risk.

The Hawks confirmed that they failed to report to authorities as per their bail conditions.

Government has now started a process to extradite them from Malawi.

"We were aware he was a flight risk, that’s why I am saying I am very angry. I personally believe he should have not been granted bail. The judiciary is independent but I'm angry, I must tell you."

Motsoaledi and the rest of government are still puzzled as to how the Bushiris managed to leave South Africa.

The minister admitted that he was not surprised that the Bushiris skipped the country.

He said that the couple did not have authentic Home Affairs documents and that officials tried to warn the court before they were granted bail.

"We in Home Affairs gave them evidence to show them this man's documents are all false."

“They were unreliable and once you got an unreliable person, why do you think he will obey the rules because he has never obeyed them. He has never obeyed any law in South Africa as far as we are concerned.”

Motsoaledi said that there was a lesson for the entire government to learn now that the Bushiris had skipped the country.

ILLEGAL CROSSING?

The Home Affairs Department said that it had not registered Bushiri or his wife crossing the South African border and it had not been able to explain exactly how the two fugitives left the country in defiance of their bail conditions.

Motsoaledi said that without any register of the Bushiris leaving the country, the only explanation was that they crossed the border illegally.

• Nthakoana Ngatane: Why the Bushiris might never come back to SA

"If he did cross, he crossed completely illegally. You know that I can’t hide the fact that we are battling to put up a structure to manage the borders because they are very porous."

However, Bushiri had insisted he was legally in South Africa and that the charges against him were trumped-up and he feared for his safety.

Bushiri told his supporters that he would be handing himself to the law enforcement agencies in Malawi on Monday.

He claimed he was not running away from being prosecuted.

"I have also instructed my lawyers that on Monday they should make an urgent application in the courts of South Africa that my bail must not be revoked because I've only come here to seek the intervention of the government of Malawi that they should consider these issues as they will lead to a fair trial."

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