Luxurious Vehicles – Who’s Malawi’s self-proclaimed ‘prophet’ Shepherd Bushiri? | Malawi Information
Blantyre, Malawi – Cheering and chanting, throngs of jubilant supporters on Thursday ran behind a motorcade whisking Shepherd Bushiri away from the grounds of a Justice of the Peace court docket in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.
Moments earlier, Bushiri – a self-proclaimed “prophet” and controversial businessman wished by South Africa on cash laundering, theft and fraud fees – had heard a choose ordering him and his spouse Mary freed following their arrest on a world warrant.
The couple had handed themselves over to police the day past however the court docket known as their arrest illegal as a result of the warrant had not handed via the related authorities ministry.
“We believe that justice is about to prevail,” a tired-looking however defiant Bushiri instructed reporters exterior the court docket after the ruling.
It was simply the newest twist in a long-running and unpredictable case that has gripped many in Malawi and South Africa – all of the whereas testing the 2 international locations’ diplomatic relations.
Bushiri, the multimillionaire chief of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church, instructions a big following in quite a few African international locations – in South Africa alone, he says the church has a couple of million followers.
Identified for his lavish life-style and desire for slick fits, Bushiri is usually described as one of many wealthiest spiritual leaders in Africa. His fortune is estimated at $150m and his possessions reportedly embody personal jets, luxurious vehicles and numerous properties.
Born in humble circumstances in Malawi’s northern district of Rumphi and spending his childhood within the close by metropolis of Mzuzu, Bushiri claims he had a non secular encounter with a supernatural energy on the age of 10 that led him to commit his life within the service of God.
In keeping with info on his church’s web site, Bushiri based EGC in 2010 in Malawi earlier than transferring its headquarters to the South African capital, Pretoria.
“I’ve seen him move up but he started small,” stated Robert Mkwezalamba, a Malawian activist and Bushiri supporter. “Then people started crowding his church in Mzuzu. He later moved to Lilongwe and was assembling at one of the biggest halls. Everyone was asking how he managed to pay but it used to be filled up so obviously one would look at the offering that he was able to get at that time,” he added.
“He had vision and realised there was a gap in South Africa [so] he went there … South Africans, they would want a better life and if there is someone who can pray for their wellbeing, they would always subscribe and always pay.”
Bushiri describes the non-denominational church as a prophetic ministry primarily based on the precept that God cares and loves individuals and needs to talk on to them. He claims to have cured HIV sufferers, handled blindness and introduced again individuals from the useless. In a single video shared on-line, he seems to be strolling within the air.
On a number of events, the evangelist star has crammed giant venues, together with South Africa’s FNB Stadium, the largest in Africa, with greater than 95,000 attendees.
The fugitive preacher has additionally constructed a enterprise empire primarily via an organization known as “Shepherd Bushiri Investments”, described on his church’s web site as having “interests in mining, real estate, an airline and other entrepreneurial pursuits”.
He says males of God ought to be wealthy and justifies his enterprise into enterprise as a approach to assist his household. However his swift rise from humble beginnings to amassing a fortune stays a thriller to many and has raised eyebrows, together with allegations of swindling members of his church.
Maybe extra significantly, Bushiri and his spouse have additionally confronted numerous felony allegations, together with fraud and cash laundering fees amounting to some $6.6m.
The couple, which deny the costs, had been launched on bail earlier this month and had their passports taken away. However on November 14, it emerged that Bushiri and his spouse had damaged their strict bail circumstances and fled to Malawi.
In a televised assertion, Bushiri stated they’d left South Africa for safety causes, claiming their lives had been in peril. He additionally outlined quite a few circumstances that wanted to be met by the South African authorities earlier than their return for trial, accusing these investigating them of bias and saying they need to be charged.
It stays unknown how the Bushiris managed to flee undetected however the information rattled South Africa and prompted questions in regards to the effectiveness of the nation’s justice and border management programs.
The escape coincided with a go to by Malawian President Lazurus Chakwera to South Africa the place he met his counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa.
The departure of Chakwera and his entourage from an airport close to Pretoria was delayed for hours after stringent checks by safety forces. Each Bushiri and the 2 international locations have denied that the preacher escaped via the aircraft which carried the Malawian officers.
The South African authorities has since introduced that it has initiated an extradition course of and stated it was searching for help from Malawi’s authorities “to ensure that the two fugitives face justice”.
Edge Kanyongolo, a authorized professional and affiliate professor on the College of Malawi, stated the case is more likely to face prolonged litigation.
“This is going to be a test of the effectiveness of regional law enforcement and crime-fighting,” he instructed Al Jazeera. “Will the Southern African Development Community regional commitment to cooporate in terms of law enforcement in era where trans-border arising, I think this is a broader issue,” he stated.
In the meantime, South African authorities have confiscated the Bushiris’ $355,000 property after they violated their bail circumstances and failing to report back to the South African police stated.
However as he walked free exterior the Lilongwe Justice of the Peace Courtroom final week, Bushiri stated: “My right to life is more important than any asset in the world.”