From stampedes to R1m gifts, 5 times Prophet Bushiri made headlines

23 January 2019 - 09:27 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, who runs the Enlightened Christian Gathering church, is no stranger to controversy.
Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, who runs the Enlightened Christian Gathering church, is no stranger to controversy.
Image: Prophet Shepherd Bushiri via Facebook

Controversial church leader Shepherd Bushiri has dominated headlines for years. After a deadly stampede in December, his name has again been brought into the spotlight.

As he fights to repair the reputation of his Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church, here are five times the charismatic preacher has found himself in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Church shut down

Members of the ECG church confirmed that services were halted "indefinitely." Bushiri invited pastors to join him on a mountain for a moment of prayer and fasting. The reason for the shutdown was not given, with officials insisting that they did not want to reveal "spiritual things."

Festive stampede

The deadly stampede claimed the lives of three women in December. The City of Tshwane's fire and emergency services department launched an inspection of the venue. The venue was found to be non-compliant on major safety issues.

The report found that among other things:

  • The diesel tank was inside the church.
  • No emergency light was provided. 
  • There was insufficient fire-fighting equipment. 
  • Escape doors used in emergencies were obstructed. 

Police said their investigations were continuing and an order of safety, which would compel church officials to make the necessary changes, had been given to ECG officials.

Hawks investigation 

In April 2018, the elite-crime fighting unit launched an investigation into claims made by church members against Bushiri that he was allegedly involved in money laundering.

The Hawks were told that the prophet generated more than R15m from his services, money which was allegedly transported to Malawi, the prophet's country of birth. 

That investigation is ongoing. In November 2018 Bushiri claimed the Hawks were "bugging" him. He told Sunday World that his office had been broken into and confidential information taken.

Sued for millions

A businesswoman who provided mining services sued Bushiri for what she described as "witchcraft prophesy" during a service that was broadcast on live TV.

Lebogang Mpane slapped Bushiri and an employee with the lawsuit, suing the two for R1m and R500,000 respectively. In her legal documents, Mpane said she was also suing the two for crimen injuria. 

Bushiri gifts Mboro with R1m

Just months after facing numerous lawsuits and investigations, Bushiri gifted Pastor Mboro with R1m. Mboro initially said he had not received the money, but later clarified that it was in his bank account. 

Bushiri under pressure to leave 

There have been calls for the ECG church to shut down. The SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) has called on the church to close its doors and after services were halted, congregants don't know what will happen come Sunday.

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