Bushiri and wife to appear in Pretoria Court on Monday

Shepherd Bushiri
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The arrest of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) controversial church leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary did not affect the resumption of prayers and church service at the Pretoria showgrounds HQ on Sunday. The couple were arrested by the Hawks on charges of fraud and money laundering on Friday and have remained in police custody since then. The pair is expected to appear in court on Monday.

The controversial ECG church Sunday services resumed in Pretoria despite the arrest of the church leader prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary on Friday. The church went into recess in December following the deaths of three parish members during a stampede. Weekend prayers and services were also suspended after continuous protest by members of the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO).

Terrence Baloyi, who is Bushiri’s  lawyer, has expressed delight over the resumption of services at the church.

“Today marks the beginning of a church service after the cross-over event. We are starting our services and everybody is flocking in. Like we always say; that ECG Pretoria is a branch on its own. It should be separated from the mother and father. The total holy speaking ECG structures which are international that is what should be understood; that a branch is a branch. There is a branch in Botswana, there is a branch in Namibia. All other branches in Europe they always continue without the mother and the father. So this also should not be treated differently.”

Baloyi says prophet Bushiri’s church is deeply disturbed by the arrest of the leader and his wife on Friday. Without dwelling into the charges they are facing, Baloyi says their priority is to secure the release of Bushiri and his wife without delay.

“Look, normally and generally the first thing that we need to do is to plan to get them released and have them get out of prison which will be by way of a bail application. That is our plan.”

Meanwhile,  Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi says Bushiri and his wife, who have spent the weekend in police custody, will only be appearing in court on Monday.

“The pair would be appearing on Monday at the Pretoria Special Commercial Crimes Court. They are still in custody and we are awaiting the decision of the court. The charges the pair is facing are issues relating to fraud, money laundering as well as the contravention of Prevention of Crimes Act. So those are the three charges being presented for now, but there is a possibility that more can be added.”

The arrest of the two come days after his church was cleared by the Commission for Culture, Religious and Linguistic. The CRL Commission ruled that Bushiri and his church were not responsible for the deaths of three people during the stampede last December.