WATCH | Bushiri defends his decision to flee South Africa, claims he won't get a fair trial

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Prophet Shephard Bushiri appears at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.
Prophet Shephard Bushiri appears at the Pretoria Magistrate's Court.
Frennie Shivambu, Gallo Images
  • Controversial pastor Shepherd Bushiri says if he was running away from trial he would never have announced where he was. 
  • The self-proclaimed prophet spoke for the first time on Saturday night following reports that he was in Malawi, contravening his bail conditions in a fraud and corruption case against him in South Africa. 
  • He claims he does not feel safe in South Africa, and has made a number of demands before considering returning to the country. 

Controversial, self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church, Shepherd Bushiri, has spoken out after absconding from South Africa to his homeland, Malawi. 

Speaking on his church's social media platforms on Saturday night, Bushiri said he was not running away from any trial he faced, but left to seek intervention from the Malawian government because he did not feel safe in South Africa.  

Bushiri and his wife, Mary, stand accused alongside three others and face charges of fraud and money laundering to the tune of R102 million. 

The couple was recently granted R200 000 bail by the Pretoria Central Magistrate's Court, News24 reported. 

On Saturday, South Africa woke up to the news that the duo had left the country - confusing many as to how and why they had left, contravening their bail conditions. 

The Hawks were also investigating after the couple failed to report to the police station on Friday, as part of their bail conditions.

In an over-20-minute rant on Saturday evening, Bushiri said if he was running away from any trial, he would never have released a statement announcing that he was in Malawi. 

Bushiri said his wealth and property in South Africa were still intact and he had not sold anything or transferred any money, proving that he was not running from anything. 

He said he arrived in Malawi on Wednesday and had not yet been in contact with the government because at the time he arrived, Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera was leaving for South Africa. 

READ | Bushiri and wife flee SA for Malawi, breaking bail conditions

Bushiri said he was in his home country because he was a citizen who sought intervention from government. He said he needed assurances for his safety from the South African government.

Bushiri added his life had been in danger on many occasions and as a result, he had opened a case after he was almost shot.

He said he had also opened cases against the investigating officers who had arrested him and nothing had happened to them, and he therefore felt there was a conflict of interest.

He said he believed he would not have a fair trial if the same people whom he had opened cases against, prior to them arresting him, were also involved in the case.    

Bushiri said: 

In February this year, I almost got shot in Sandton at a filling station. I opened a case in SA, there is footage, I think Sandton police are aware of this case. Until today, nothing has been done. I feel my life is not safe in South Africa. So many times I have had attempts of assassinations. I feel my life and my wife's life is not safe. I wouldn't want to die when my name is not cleared. This is the reason why I decided to come to Malawi.

Bushiri said he was calling on the South African government to institute independent investigators. 

He said he would formally be meeting with the Malawian government to assist him and engage with the South African government regarding his safety. 

Bushiri alleged that one of the the investigating officers probing his immigration issues, was also arrested on corruption related charges. 

He said he felt there was a vendetta against him, resulting in the cases against him. 

He also claimed that he had been extorted. 

Bushiri said: 

I have also instructed my lawyers that, on Monday, they should make an urgent application in the courts of South Africa that my bail must not be revoked as I have come here only to seek for intervention of the government of Malawi that they should consider these as they will lead to a fair trial.

Bushiri added that while he had subjected himself to law enforcement agencies in South Africa, he would be doing the same in Malawi on Monday. He said he would inform the authorities in his country of his presence. 

He said he would provide Malawian authorities with the address he was currently at for when they wanted to contact him. 

He said while he would want to have the trial concluded, he did not think it would be fair if the issues he raised were not addressed. 

"I am calling for fairness in my trial. I believe in the law system of South Africa and I believe the justice system of South Africa can appoint an independent group of investigating officers who are not implicated because I opened cases against them prior to them opening cases against me. I think and feel I can't have a fair trial." 

Bushiri also raised concerns around the officials dealing with his case. 

He said: 

Being a black person, being investigated by these five white police officers, having about three white prosecutors and having a white judge, I don't think I am going to have a fair trial.

He also claimed that his permanent residence status was obtained legally and that he applied for it through the South African embassy in Malawi, adding that "desperate investigating officers" were trying to push for it to be revoked.

He also raised concerns about statements made by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi against him. 

"This is why I am in Malawi currently, to present my case to say, 'can the government of Malawi not allow their citizens to go through such type of injustice?'. This is injustice. And I am calling on [the] Malawian government to intervene and make sure I have got a fair trial in South Africa."

I had to do this, I had to come to Malawi to make my address because as part of my bail conditions in South Africa, they said I should not say anything, I should not comment anything, what does this say? Am I having my rights? We have got human rights and one of [them] is freedom to speech and expression. I can't express myself, my feelings over this case, because I should not say anything, as a bail condition.

Bushiri also slammed his bail conditions which included that he not be in contact with State witnesses, questioning who exactly they were, because, as a "public figure", he interacted with a lot of people - his driver, church leadership, neighbours, but had no idea whether they were State witnesses or not. 

"This is why I had to leave the country, because I don't know who is the State witness. How will I in the country? What about my pastors, maybe they are State witnesses? What about my church members, I talk to people. I am a public figure, I talk to everyone. So for my safety, I am in Malawi right now." 

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