The Bushiris were granted strict bail conditions, including surrendering their passports to authorities and not leaving the borders of South Africa.
The Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader Sheperd Bushiri has briefed his lawyers to urgently interdict the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court from revoking his R200 000 bail.
Bushiri and his wife Mary unlawfully left South Africa for his home country of Malawi, violating their bail conditions. He further broke the court’s order when he addressed the public on the case.
On Saturday, he took to the virtual platform to justify his address – citing freedom of expression.
“We have got human rights and one of those rights is a right to freedom of speech and expression. I cannot express myself over this case because they said I can’t say anything,” says Bushiri.
The ECG leader and his wife fled to Malawi on Wednesday, but police only became aware of their escape after the couple failed to report at a police station as per their bail conditions on Friday night.
The controversial self-proclaimed prophet wants Malawian authorities to compel their South African counterparts to prioritise his claims of death threats, and extortion by investigating officers in his case. He has vowed to only return to South Africa for trial should his safety be guaranteed.
Bushiri is facing prosecution for theft, money laundering and fraud.
Bushiri rubbished assertions that he is a fugitive of the law, saying he was concerned for his safety. He claims attempts were made on his life in the past and that police have failed to assist.
“In February this year, I almost got shot in Sandton. I opened a case in South African. There is footage and the Sandton police are aware of this case. They even have a footage where my life was at risk and till today nothing has been done.”
Mixed reactions to the Bushiri saga
Church members have been barred from speaking to media. On the other hand, residents of Pretoria have expressed mixed feelings about the Burshiris escape and the violation of their bail conditions.
“Apparently, they were saying that that guy was being accused of some allegation where by other people did not have a proof because he tried to come clean in everything. So, in life you have to save yourself. That’s why he ran away, especially if some people want you killed or prosecuted for something you didn’t do,” says one resident.
Another one says, “He was not supposed just to go he was supposed to have spoken to the government about his situation.”
“How did he run away?” asks one of the residents. “Where did he get the passport? Somewhere, somehow he was involved and government helped him to run away.”
Bushiri also reiterated his claim of being harrassed by investigating officers. He says the matter was reported to relevant authorities but in vain. His lawyers are expected to make an urgent application to prevent the court from revoking his bail.
The remark comes as a diplomatic row reportedly brews between South Africa and Malawi over the matter.