The government says that it has initiated the process to secure the extradition of Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader, Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary, from Malawi. In a statement, GCIS Director-General Phumla Williams says the process has been initiated in terms of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Extradition and other legal instruments, which Malawi is a signatory.

Bushiri and Mary unlawfully left South Africa for his home country of Malawi, violating their bail conditions. They are out on R200 000 bail on charges of theft, money laundering and fraud.

Police only became aware of the couple’s escape after they failed to report at a police station as per their bail conditions on Friday.

Bushiri further broke the court’s order when he addressed the public on the case. He justified his address, citing freedom of expression.

Bushiri’s address following his escape to Malawi:

President Chakwera’s alleged involvement

Government has refuted claims that the Bushiris left for Malawi aboard a flight, which President Lazarus Chakwera and his delegation travelled in.

Chakwera was in South Africa on a working visit on Friday. He left that evening. Williams says Home Affairs Immigration verified the identities of all passengers on Chakwera’s plane.

“Following the visit, President Chakwera and his delegation departed from Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria and stopped over at OR Tambo International Airport to collect an additional number of officials who had travelled to South Africa earlier to prepare for the working visit. Department of Home Affairs immigration officials verified the identities of all passengers and Mr and Ms Bushiri were not on the flight.”

South African opposition parties weigh in on the Bushiris’ escape to Malawi:

The government says while this process is under way, law-enforcement agencies will continue to investigate.

Enlightened Christian Gathering Church members have been barred from speaking to the media.

In an interview with the SABC News on Saturday, Bushiri said he was too emotional to say how he arrived in Malawi.