- IPID has confirmed that it is investigating a claim of extortion against the police by Shepherd Bushiri.
- However, IPID has said the investigation stalled because Bushiri was too busy to make statements on the claim.
- EWN is reporting Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi as saying he did not believe the pastor and his wife should have been granted bail.
- Bushiri and his wife, Mary, broke their bail conditions and he said they are now in Malawi.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) said evangelist Shepherd Bushiri's lawyer lodged a complaint that his client was being extorted by police, but the investigation stalled because Bushiri was too busy to provide statements.
IPID spokesperson Ndileka Cola said that in 2018 Bushiri's lawyer opened a case of alleged police corruption or extortion on the preacher's behalf in Sunnyside, Pretoria.
He alleged that officers investigating allegations of rape against Bushiri were trying to extort money from him to make the charges "disappear".
As part of the allegations against the police, IPID needed Bushiri to provide information and to acquire witness statements.
However, Bushiri's non-availability "due to his busy schedule" made it difficult to proceed.
"As such, his poor cooperation, busy schedule and non-availability has stalled the investigation process as crucial information required to proceed with the investigation process is not forthcoming from him as the victim in this matter," Cola said.
"Mr Bushiri has been provided with feedback on the matter, he is well aware that the investigator will proceed with his case as soon as he cooperates fully with investigation process," she said.
Shepherd and Mary Bushiri skipped the country last week. In a video broadcast, he said he was in Malawi for his own safety and because he would not get a fair trial because the police and the National Prosecuting Authority were biased against him.
In the meantime, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is reportedly seething over the Bushiris fleeing South Africa.
"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," he told Eyewitness News.
On Saturday, Bushiri confirmed he and his wife had fled South Africa – a serious violation of their bail conditions. He cited unconfirmed security risks and claimed he would get an unfair and racially-slanted trial. He did not substantiate these claims.
Bushiri, who describes himself as a prophet and is referred to as "Papa" or "Major One" by his zealous followers, has a significant religious enterprise, including his YouTube Prophet Channel.
The Bushiris face charges of fraud and corruption. The charges include an inquiry into a R100 million investment scheme. The Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader and his wife were out on R200 000 bail each when it emerged they had not appeared for their Friday check-in with police, which is a requirement of their bail conditions.
Motsoaledi described the couple as "unreliable".
"They were unreliable and once you got an unreliable person, why do you think he will obey the rules because he has never obeyed them. He has never obeyed any law in South Africa as far as we are concerned," Motsoaledi said.
Bushiri sent out a special public address on his YouTube channel to explain himself to his followers in more than 70 countries around the world.
He said he had no problem with being arrested but was shocked by threats to his life.
His escape has raised a series of questions about border security, cooperation between law enforcement and the Department of Home Affairs, while also leading to speculation that Bushiri and his wife were smuggled out of the country by Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera, who happened to be visiting South Africa last week.
On Sunday, government said the couple did not leave the country on board Chakwera's flight home.
Government spokesperson Phumla Williams said the state had initiated an extradition process to bring the Bushiris back to South Africa to stand trial.
The Sunday Times reports that an Interpol Red Alert has been activated for the Bushiris.
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