The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) has accused the Sunday Independent of publishing false claims from unnamed sources regarding the escape to Malawi of Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary – who had been granted bail in South Africa.
They are facing charges of theft, fraud and money laundering involving a 100 million rand investment scheme.
The newspaper report quotes unnamed sources as saying the Bushiris were issued bogus diplomatic passports and fled the country aboard a jet hired by Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera – with the assistance of South African government officials and politicians.
The Bushiris’ escape to Malawi sighting safety concerns:
GCIS says the story in the newspaper seeks to implicate International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor and other Ministers in crimes and conspiracy without providing any evidence.
Earlier Pandor, called on the Sunday Independent to retract the allegations that the South African and Malawi governments helped Sheperd Bushiri flee to his home country of Malawi.
The Minister said failure to do this will force the department to seek legal advice.
In a statement, Pandor said such matters should be subject to full investigation by relevant authorities and not subject to speculation bordering along the lines of irresponsible journalism.
She said the publication did not afford her department a chance to respond to the allegations.
“Officials in DIRCO work diligently and are entitled to do so without having their reputations tarnished by unnamed sources that hide in the shadows. It is concerning that DIRCO was not afforded an opportunity to respond to these serious allegations by the newspaper concerned.”
Pandor said the matter remains under investigation.
“Government continues to investigate this matter and is working closely with the Government of the Republic of Malawi to achieve a resolution aimed at ensuring that the law of the Republic of South Africa is upheld.”
Attempt to embarrass ministers
GCIS Director-General, Phumla Williams, says the article sought to embarrass Pandor and other ministers.
In a statement, Williams says the publication has no proof to substantiate its claims.
She says if the publication wanted to serve national interest, it should have reported the claims at the nearest police station.
Williams has urged people to treat news on this matter with caution.
SA government says the Bushiris did not leave with Malawian president: