Was it an elaborate plot to harbour fugitives aboard a presidential plane? Or perhaps a feat of divine wonder – a clap of the hands and a subsequent plume of smoke that, once cleared, revealed a vacant space where self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary once stood?
The big question still hangs in the air – how did the Bushiris manage to escape South Africa?
It seems that the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – the Hawks – are equally bewildered by the nature of the corruption-accused couple’s escape, and have therefore reached out to the public to assist their investigation.
Hawks seek assistance in Bushiri escape investigation
Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale released a brief statement on Tuesday 24 November in which she said that any member of the public who may have an idea of how the couple pulled of the audacious escape should contact them urgently.
“Anyone with information regarding his escape is encouraged to anonymously contact law enforcement through the MySAPS app or the Crime Stop number 0800 10111,” she said.
“Information may also be shared directly with the Hawks through its communication officer. Information received will be treated with strict confidentiality,” she said.
Bushiri facing rape charges
This appeal for information follows the confirmation that Shepherd Bushiri will also face charges of rape after three warrants were issued for his arrest relating to the matters on Friday.
“The warrants were issued on Friday last week and at the time of his disappearance, Bushiri was still under investigation for three separate cases of rape reported by members of his church,” the Hawks said in a statement.
Bushiri and his wife already face a plethora of charges relating to money laundering and fraud, and are currently still in their home country of Malawi where they have been released unconditionally by local courts.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola insisted at a post-Cabinet media briefing last week that extradition processes are underway.
“We will continue to finalise the extradition papers, which we intend to send to Malawi within the next two weeks and not within the next 30 days as described by the SADC protocol,” he said.
Extradition process will ‘likely be drawn out’
Immigration law experts warn that getting the couple back to South Africa to face a judge may take a substantial amount of time as they hold the right to appeal as part of the SADC agreed-to protocol.
“According to Malawian domestic law, they also have extradition legislation. Whatever happens in terms of that inquiry, Bushiri will have the right to appeal,” lawyer Gary Eisenberg told EWN.