Bushiri fraud case: No bail for co-accused Willah Mudolo, court rules he is a flight risk

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Self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary (in red).
Self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary (in red).
Frennie Shivambu, Gallo Images
  • Willah Mudolo is one of Shepherd Bushiri's co-accused in a R102 million fraud, money laundering and theft case.
  • His bail was denied by the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Tuesday. 
  • The court found he was a flight risk and not in the country legally.

Willah Mudolo, one of self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri's co-accused, has been denied bail. 

Mudolo appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Tuesday, where the magistrate, Thandi Theledi, handed down the bail judgment. 

Mudolo, his wife, Zethu, Bushiri and his wife, Mary, as well as Landiwe Ntlokwana face multiple charges of fraud, theft and money laundering in relation to an investment scam, which allegedly defrauded investors to the tune of R102 million.

Bushiri and his wife have since fled the country, returning to their homeland of Malawi after being granted bail by the same court in November.

Mudolo, who is a Zambian national, is the only accused still in custody after his wife and Ntlokwana were successful in their bail applications, which were heard at the same time as the Bushiris' application.

The court found Mudolo was a flight risk, having attempted to flee the country three times before he was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport on the third attempt. He had bought a one-way ticket.

His defence that he was leaving on a business trip was not accepted by the court. 

The State previously refuted this as well, placing it on record that the amount of clothes found in his bags could not have been for a three-day business trip. 

READ | Bushiri extradition papers signed, court to decide on warrants of arrest - Malawi minister

Theledi also accepted the evidence of an official from the Department of Home Affairs, who testified that Mudolo was not in the country legally as his visitor's visa had expired. 

She did not accept Mudolo's version that he could not renew it because of Covid-19. 

Furthermore, Theledi accepted the evidence produced by the State that Mudolo was in possession of a cellphone and was communicating with an unknown person. 

She also found it disturbing that one of the conversations was about bribing court officials. 

News24 previously reported that Mudolo had access to two cellphones while in custody at Kgosi Mampuru Prison in Tshwane and he had signed a document admitting he had a cellphone.

This phone was used to WhatsApp a number of people, including an unknown person who claimed to have an advocate that could help facilitate a bribe to get him out of prison.

Mudolo denied having access to a cellphone and accused the Department of Correctional Services of forging his signature on a document in which he confessed to having access to the device.

The defence also pointed out that the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria had ruled on the matter after an application was brought because Mudolo was transferred from the local remand centre to C-Max.

It was placed on record that the move was reviewed and set aside after it was found to be unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid. 

No reasons were given for the order, and the State put it on record that it was a technical issue with the processes followed by correctional services. 

The State also successfully showed that the likelihood existed that Mudolo would abscond as he had business interests elsewhere in the world and had access to large sums of money. 

The possibility of fleeing

The access to large sums of money meant it was possible he would flee and could forfeit his bail money and the fixed property he put up as a guarantee. 

Theledi added it would be difficult to extradite Mudolo if he fled. 

The court said Mudolo had also failed to convince the court that bail was in the interest of justice. 

While Theledi denied Mudolo's bail, she stressed that her decision was not based on the fact that the Bushiris had fled - she had looked at the matter separately and objectively. 

The matter has been postponed to 25 February 2021 for further investigation.

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