Pretoria – A delegation of officials from South Africa, led by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, has arrived in Malawi to participate in the extradition hearing of fugitives Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary.
The hearing in Malawi is scheduled for tomorrow.
The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services said senior and highly experienced prosecutors from the National Prosecuting Authority, the Investigative Directorate and investigators from the SAPS would take part in the hearing.
Chrispin Phiri, the minister’s spokesperson, said the delegation’s participation in the hearing was in line with section 6 of the Extradition Act of Malawi.
“In leading this delegation, the department is fulfilling its role as a central authority,” Phiri said.
In an extradition context, a central authority was a designated government department that had the responsibility of receiving, managing and executing extradition requests, he said.
In February, the Malawi High Court ruled that section 6 of the Extradition Act of Malawi clarified that the witnesses or relevant witnesses to a preliminary inquiry/extradition hearing were the witnesses who would be able to answer to and convince the court conducting the inquiry whether the Bushiris should be extradited to South Africa to face the law.
The high court further ruled that the witnesses required to traverse the provisions of the section had to be state agents who would be able to comprehensively address the issues.
Under the earlier judgment, South African witnesses in the extradition process had to travel to Malawi to give evidence.
The superior court overturned last year’s ruling by a magistrate in Lilongwe, who ruled that witnesses could give evidence virtually, while in South Africa, before a South African court.
Bushiri said he was treated unfairly in South Africa and therefore fled to Malawi.
Bushiri, who had a massive following at his Enlightened Christian Gathering church, which had its headquarters in Pretoria at the time, said he survived assassination attempts in South Africa.
Apart from rape allegations, Bushiri and his wife are wanted in South Africa on allegations of fraud and money-laundering relating to a R100 million investment scheme.
The church leaders were arrested in South Africa but after being granted bail, they fled to Malawi, saying they were not safe in their host country.
The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court released the couple on R200 000 bail each on November 4, 2020, after their arrest in October that year.