Cape Town - Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary will spend the weekend behind bars after their bail application was postponed until Monday.
The couple have previously indicated that they intend to plead not guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering involving R106 million. They are accused alongside Landiwe Sindani, 37.
While a weekend in jail may not have been part of Major 1’s plans, the couple were fortunate that the court backtracked on its initial decision to set the hearing for next Friday, October 30.
The Bushiris pleaded with the court to hold the hearing on Monday, despite the roll already being taken up with other matters. They indicated that they would be willing to wait their turn while the court dealt with the other cases scheduled for that day.
An attempt by the couple’s legal representative to have the media barred from the proceedings was dismissed by magistrate Thandi Theledi, who ruled that pictures of the defendants were permitted but that the prosecution could not be filmed or photographed. Prosecutors had argued that their lives could be in danger.
Theledi, however, ruled that audio recordings of the prosecution would be permitted.
The Hawks on Monday summoned the couple for a discussion about an investment in international property and investment company Rising Estate, Enlightened Christian Gathering church spokesperson Ephraim Nyondo said in a statement.
“The Hawks informed lawyers of our leaders, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Prophetess Mary Bushiri, late Monday afternoon that they are requesting the couple to go to their office by 11am accompanied by their lawyers to discuss an issue concerning an investment pertaining to a company called Rising Estate.”
Bushiri handed himself over to police on Tuesday, while his wife was arrested shortly thereafter.
Despite an affidavit from the Department of Home Affairs, the status of the Enlightened Christian Gathering church’s first couple’s residency in the country is still unclear.
The home which they listed as their address on court papers had been put on the market and they were no longer living there, the court heard on Wednesday.
The court earlier this week heard that Bushiri, whose earnings was revealed to be around R500 000 monthly, was considered a flight risk. The couple originally hail from Malawi and have a number of churches outside South Africa.
Bushiri also faces a rape charge in an unrelated matter.