Claims are circulating that the Bushiris were illegally smuggled out of the country to Malawi by car hijacking syndicates.
The government has refuted claims self-proclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife left South Africa, in violation of their bail conditions, on a Malawi government flight.
They are charged with theft, fraud and money laundering involving over R100 million.
Motsoaledi appeared before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee to explain issues around the Bushiris’ permanent residency in South Africa.
Motsoaledi told MPs there is no record of the Bushiris leaving the country’s border posts.
“The last time any of the Bushiris used ports of entry was on 19 January 2019 via ORT (OR Tambo Airport). After that no movement on our side indicated any of the Bushiris going through our border posts.”
ECG leader Shepherd Bushiri, wife flee SA for Malawi:
Bushiri, and his wife, Mary, fled from South Africa to Malawi last week in contravention of their bail conditions.
Hawks request Interpol’s assistance in arresting the Bushiris
The Hawks have applied for a Red Notice with Interpol to provisionally arrest the Bushiris.
A Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.
Hawks Spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale says the arrest notice will become active if the Bushiris are not at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.
“Extradition means you know where the suspect is. A Red Notice is to let the other country [Malawi] know you are looking for that person [Bushiris] and through Interpol. Should they have that person in their country, law enforcement agencies in that country must ensure that he [wanted person] is provisionally arrested, so that we can arrest him with our warrant. We have applied for a Red Notice for the Bushiris through Interpol,” explains Mogale.
Who are the Bushiris?
The Bushiris stirred controversy for their flamboyant lifestyle and have been criticized for portraying false prophecy among other notorious spiritual leaders with mass followings.
The Bushiris have a major religious following in South Africa, being charismatic leaders who often claim to have spiritual healing powers.
Shepherd Bushiri’s church hosts a popular crossover service on New Years’ Eve annually at the FNB Stadium which tens of thousands of followers attend.
The Bushiris own a collection of luxury cars worth millions, which include a Bentley Bentayga, Aston Martin One-77 and Rolls Royce Black Badge. The couple also own a R5.5m property at the Midstream Estate in Centurion and at least one private jet.
Bushiri has claimed to be a prophet with healing powers, saying he changed the fortunes of the impoverished, has cured people of HIV and made the blind see.
In 2017, social media users criticized the church leader when ticket prices to his “exclusive” gala dinner ranged between R1 000 and R25 000.