Cloud over pastor Shepherd Bushiri's extradition, as he appears in Lilongwe court
ECG church leader in court in Malawi on Tuesday challenging his arrest there
While the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has confirmed that an extradition request has been submitted to the Malawian government through diplomatic channels, the Malawian government says it has not received any formal communication from SA.
The NPA’s Sipho Ngwema said the request was sent last week. “We await further developments,” he said.
However, the Malawian government, through minister of information Gospel Kazako, on Tuesday said the office of the attorney-general of Malawi has not received any formal documentation from SA authorities.
“What is expected to happen is that the NPA in SA must send the application of the relevant documents to the minister of justice. Your minister of justice must send the documents to the minister of foreign affairs in SA.
“That minister must send the documents to the SA high commission in Malawi. Then the documents must be taken to the minister of foreign affairs in Malawi. Our foreign affairs then sends it to the ministry of justice, where the attorney-general, who is the head of state lawyers, will chart a way forward,” explained Kazako.
He said while both the SA and Malawian state lawyers were communicating about the matter, the formal process still needed to be followed.
Meanwhile, the Malawian pastor and businessman, born Chipiliro Gama, and his wife Mary, who fled SA last month, are appearing at the Lilongwe high court on Tuesday.
Kazako said the fugitive couple — whose escape coincided with Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera’s diplomatic visit to SA — were challenging the constitutionality of their arrest in Malawi.
“Previously, the lower court ruled that the Bushiris' arrest was unlawful and they were released on bail. Today the state lawyers are appealing that decision.”
In SA, the exact details of how 37-year-old Bushiri, also known as "Major 1", who founded and leads the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church, left the country remains the subject of a police investigation.
Bushiri was set to stand trial in a case of alleged fraud and money laundering involving more than R100m.
His luxury mansion in Centurion was seized and the couple forfeited combined bail of R400,000 for contravening bail conditions set by the Pretoria Central magistrate's court.