Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has weighed in on Shepherd Bushiri and his wife’s escape from South Africa, admitting that South Africa’s borders are “very porous.”
Speaking to Eyewitness News, Motsoaledi said in the absence of a register showing the controversial couple leaving the country, the only explanation is that they left illegally.
‘Very porous’ borders
“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,” he said.
The self-proclaimed prophet Bushiri and his wife Mary announced on Facebook over the weekend that they were in Malawi “because of security issues since 2015.”
They are facing fraud and money laundering charges to the tune of R102 million and were out on bail. Their departure from South Africa was a violation of their bail conditions.
Motsoaledi said he was “angry” that they had been granted bail. “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,” he said.
Bushiri made the following demands to South African authorities, which he said must be met to pave the way for his return:
- “First, I want the South African government to assure us of our safety and security whilst in South Africa.
- Secondly, I want the South African government to assure us that our bail will not be revoked. Our right to fair trial entails that we have access to our lawyers all the time. Revocation of the bail defeats our right to fair trial and also exposes us to further security and safety challenges.
- Thirdly, I want the officers involved in investigating, arresting and prosecuting us to recuse themselves. As earlier said, this is the same team that I earlier lodged complaint against and, also, opened cases against. I won’t have a fair trial with their continued involvement.
- Fourthly, I want the South African State to see to it that all the issues I lodged and opened against these officers must be pursued to their logical conclusion before proceeding with our case.
- Finally, I want the South African State to appoint independent and professional investigators and prosecutors who should make independent decisions on the cases we are allegedly accused of.”
However, South Africa has indicated that it has launched extradition proceedings against the Bushiris despite their demands.
“To ensure that the two fugitives face justice, South Africa has initiated a process to secure their extradition from Malawi in terms of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Extradition and other legal instruments, to which Malawi is a signatory,” government spokesperson Phumla Williams said on Sunday.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) also said it will launch an application under the Criminal Procedure Act for a warrant of arrest against the Bushiris.
On Monday, the Independent Investigative Directorate (IPID) confirmed that Shepherd Bushiri opened a case of alleged corruption/extortion against certain police officers in 2018.
However, it added that Bushiri’s “poor cooperation, busy schedule and non-availability” stalled the investigation process.