The leader of the Enlightened Christian Gatherings (ECG), Shepherd Bushiri, his wife Mary mand the co-accused, Landiwe Ntlokwana, spent another night behind bars as their bail proceedings drag on. The three were arrested on Tuesday on charges of fraud, money laundering, and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act to the tune of R102 million.
Bushiri, his wife and Ntlokwana’s first appearance was not about whether they should be released on bail or not, but rather if the state may ask for a postponement in the matter.
The state prosecutor told the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court they had to arrest Bushiri and his two co-accused before they were 100% ready after they received information that one of accused planned to flee.
She told the court they needed time to verify some of the addresses and family ties to establish whether Bushiri and his co-accused are flight risks.
The state prosecutor did not want to give her name to the media. She said it was not unusual for the state to ask for a postponement at a first appearance before a formal bail application is heard.
Bushiri and his co-accused’s Advocate, Annelene van den Heever, however, said the police had more than a year to finalise their investigation and said they expected them to have verified all their information at that time.
She told the court there was no need for a postponement as Bushiri and his wife were respectively already on R100 000 bail in another case. She said they knew about the investigation against them and still did not try to evade the police.
Van den Heever said all three accused have strong family ties in South Africa and emphasised that the Bushiri couple has permanent residency in the country.