South Africa

Hawks won’t comment on report that Bushiri had been in SA three times since fleeing

THE Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (The Hawks) on Sunday said they won’t be drawn to comment on speculation that self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri has been in South Africa since fleeing to Malawi.

“It is common cause that he is currently in his country of birth. A process of bringing him back is dealt with by the competent authority in line with extradition arrangements,” the Hawks said.

“At the right time we will bring the country into confidence once there are notable developments on that process. We will therefore not be drawn to comment on speculation on this matter.”

According to a report, Bushiri had been in South Africa three times since he fled to Malawi with his wife Mary in November after they were granted bail.

The Bushiris were each released on R200 000 bail by the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on November 4 after their arrest in October.

The City Press reported that South Africa’s security agencies were investigating claims that Bushiri had been in the country on three different occasions.

With the most recent visit being just two months ago, the authorities are trying to establish how the leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering church got through tight security cordon that was set up to apprehend him.

In their statement on Sunday, the Hawks said: “We therefore appeal to anyone with credible evidence that supports these speculations that are doing the rounds to come forward with that information to the police.”

The Hawks said they are on record for arresting Bushiri and taking him to court to answer for the charges against him.

“He was granted bail and did not comply with the conditions of bail to appear on a specified date. A warrant of arrest was then granted which requires us to execute.”

The Bushiris are wanted in South Africa on fraud and money laundering charges relating to an investment scheme to the tune of R100 million.

In November, the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church leaders fled to Malawi.

As part of their bail conditions, they had been restricted to travel only within Gauteng and North West until the case was finalised.

They handed themselves to the police in Malawi after a warrant of arrest was issued by Interpol.

On June 8, the Lilongwe Magistrate's Court in Malawi dismissed a State application for South Africa-based witnesses to testify virtually in their extradition hearing.

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