The Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader Prophet Bushiri and his wife confirmed on Saturday 14 November 2020 that they have left South Africa; the couple returned to Malawi.

This despite surrendering their travelling documents to authorities when they were granted bail by the Pretoria Magistrate Court earlier this month. Bushiri and his wife Mary were each granted bail of R200 000. 

Prophet Bushiri skips bail, flees to Malawi

Prophet Bushiri “wanted to inform the general public” that they are temporarily in Malawi. He explains that “safety and security issues got worse when we just got out on bail”.

“There have been clear and evident attempts to have myself, my wife and my family killed. Despite our several attempts to report to authorities, there has never been State protection [sic]”.

The “prophet” added that going to Malawi was a “tactical withdrawal from the Republic of South Africa solely meant to preserve” their lives. Bushiri still “strongly believes” in their innocence.

‘We have to be alive to testify’

He went on to give an account of their “legal issues” starting with the arrest for “alleged money laundering charges” and said the State “is not ready to give [a trial]” two years later.

“We have to be alive to testify to our innocence. […] As we keep waiting for that trial to come, we were arrested again; kept in custody for over two weeks and we are not sure if we will face trial.”

He said the decision to leave South Africa was “painful” but added that their decision for “coming to Malawi is not an act of running away from being tried”. He added, “not at all”, for good measure. 

Prophet Bushiri’s list of demands

Bushiri explained that he and Mary want to clear their names in a “justice system that is fair, impartial and just”. He then laid out a list of conditions for the South African government:

  1. The prophet wants the South African government to assure their safety while in South Africa.
  2. The couple wants assurance that their bail won’t be revoked and that they have “access to lawyers at all times”.
  3. He wants the “officers involved in investigating, arresting and prosecuting us to recuse themselves”, as he believes they “won’t have a fair trial with their continued involvement”.
  4. Bushiri wants all “the issues [he] lodged and opened against those officers to be pursued to their logical conclusion” before his case continues.
  5. He calls on the South African state “to appoint independent and professional investigators and prosecutors who should make independent decisions”.

Bushiri also called on the Malawian government to “liaise with the South African government to ensure that the above issues are met”. He says he would be willing to return to SA “once these five issues are met.”

“I am willing to avail myself before the South Africa justice system. I am looking forward to that day because my wife and I have long waited for it to prove our innocence and clear our names.”

Bushiri says he will hold a press briefing in Lilongwe, Malawi in due course, and added that it “will be aired on all media networks across the world”. 

Prophet Bushiri’s controversial case

Bushiri, his wife Mary, and three other individuals were part of an R100 million fraud and money laundering case. They were arrested by the Hawks back on 21 October 2020.

When Bushiri and Mary appeared before the Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Pretoria a day after their arrest, scores of supporters gathered outside the court to show their support.

Bushiri is one of the wealthiest and best-known pastors in Africa. One supporter told reporters at the scene they were there to support the “a major prophet, the only prophet in the world”.

“He is a man of God and I believe and I trust that he is not guilty, he is the victim of the plot of the so-called devil”.