The bail application of self-proclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, has started in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe.
They handed themselves over to Malawian authorities yesterday after becoming aware of an Interpol arrest warrant for them.
They fled South Africa last week breaking their bail conditions set by the Pretoria Magistrate’s court.
The Pretoria court has since revoked their bail and ruled that their R5.5 million house in Midstream Estate be forfeited to the state, as the property was put up as a guarantee that they will attend court in South Africa.
The Bushiris and three other people stand accused of fraud, theft and money laundering involving a multi-million rand investment scheme.
Malawian journalist Daniel Mababa on the Bushiris:
News agencies in Malawi report police have beefed up security outside the court in Lilongwe as supporters of Shepherd and Mary Bushiri flocked to the court.
Since this morning four legal representatives, including a senior council, have left the Bushrir’s legal team.
Their current lawyer, Wapona Kita, says court proceedings will start this afternoon and that the Bushiri’s will attend in person.
Malawi’s extradition laws
Malawi’s law allows for the extradition of accused persons to another country. However, this only happens after authorities establish that the persons face extraditable charges.
While Malawi is a signatory to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocols on Extradition, its local laws still apply. It must be determined if the charges the Bushiri’s face constitute extraditable offences under the law.
Malawi’s Extradition Act says that processes will begin at the lower Magistrate’s Court with expectations of appeals and the like before a higher court can make the final decision.
Bushiri has denied the allegations and is expected to argue that he didn’t commit the said crimes.
The legal process can take up to several years.