After being granted bail of R200,000 each, self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary have fled to their home country of Malawi.
One of explicit bail condition was that they were not to leave the country.
The Bushiris released a statement on Saturday morning, confirming that they had fled to their home country of Malawi.
“I would like to inform the general public that my wife, Mary, and I are temporarily in our home country, Malawi, because of safety and security issues since 2015, matters that got worse when we just got out on bail,” the Enlightened Christian Gathering leader said.
The National Prosecuting Authority indicated that it could not comment on the Bushiris leaving the country as one of their bail conditions was to report to their nearest SA Police Service (SAPS) office every Monday and Friday – between 06:00 and 18:00 – until the case is finalised.
Gauteng SAPS spokesperson Captain Kay Makhubele told The Citizen that he was unaware of the Bushiris leaving the country and that the police was currently investigating the matter.
Said Bushiri: “There have been clear and evident attempts to have myself, my wife and my family killed and despite our several attempts to report to authorities, there has never been state protection.”
The pastor said them fleeing South Africa is “tactical withdrawal” to “save their lives”.
Bushiri, his wife, and the two other accused were arrested in October in connection with fraud, money laundering and theft worth more than R102 million.
“These attempts have been heightened with recent spates of arrests and detentions that we felt the only way for us to clear our names before the law is to ensure that our lives are preserved. My wife and I strongly believe in our innocence but this cannot be proved if our lives are not preserved. We have to be alive to testify to our innocence,” the statement read.
They said the decision to leave South Africa was a “painful” one and that they believe they are being persecuted and not prosecuted.
“As we keep waiting for that trial to come, we were arrested again, kept in custody for over two weeks and we are not sure if we will face trial. Equally shocking is the fact that as we kept waiting to get the facts of the recent arrest, the State brought up immigration issues that they, not us, owe the public an explanation. But they want us to explain.”
Bushiri added a number of demands in his statement, including that the South African government assure them of their safety and security whilst in in the country and that their bail would not be revoked, as well as the right to have a fair trial.
In addition, he insisted that the investigating officers, as well as the prosecutors must recuse themselves from the 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,” Bushiri said.
He has requested that the Malawian government liaise with and South African government to meet their requests.
“I will hold a press briefing in Lilongwe, Malawi, and it will be aired on all media networks across the world soon,” Bushiri said.