Malawi court frees pastor wanted in South Africa for fraud, money-laundering

LILONGWE (Reuters) - A Malawi magistrate released self-proclaimed prophet and businessman Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary from custody on Thursday, saying the arrest of the couple, who face charges of money-laundering, theft and fraud in South Africa, was illegal. Principal Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba said the couple's arrest in Malawi on Wednesday went against the country's laws and ordered the two to be freed without bail 'in the interest of justice.'   Bushiri, a pastor, has a large social media following and a lifestyle that includes expensive clothes, mansions and sports cars. He claims to be able to cure HIV and blindness and promises to deliver his followers from poverty

Reuters November 20, 2020 01:10:33 IST
Malawi court frees pastor wanted in South Africa for fraud, money-laundering

Malawi court frees pastor wanted in South Africa for fraud moneylaundering

LILONGWE (Reuters) - A Malawi magistrate released self-proclaimed prophet and businessman Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary from custody on Thursday, saying the arrest of the couple, who face charges of money-laundering, theft and fraud in South Africa, was illegal.

Principal Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba said the couple's arrest in Malawi on Wednesday went against the country's laws and ordered the two to be freed without bail "in the interest of justice."  

Bushiri, a pastor, has a large social media following and a lifestyle that includes expensive clothes, mansions and sports cars. He claims to be able to cure HIV and blindness and promises to deliver his followers from poverty.

Malawi police arrested Bushiri after he skipped bail in South Africa and fled to his home country. Bushiri has said his life is in danger in South Africa and he believes he will not have a fair trial.

He and his wife were awaiting trial on charges of money-laundering, theft and fraud in South Africa, but it emerged over the weekend that they had been smuggled out of the country to Malawi's capital Lilongwe, according to the BBC.

That prompted a South African court to issue two warrants for Bushiri's arrest. There has been a simmering diplomatic row between Malawi and South Africa over who was to blame for his escape.

"We're aware of bilateral relationship between the two countries, but the rule of law must prevail," Nyimba said.

South Africa's Justice Minister Ronald Lamola told a news conference on Thursday that the National Prosecuting Authority and elite police unit the Hawks were compiling a formal extradition request for the Bushiris and that the government hoped to file the extradition papers within two weeks.

"We are convinced that the Bushiris will come back to South Africa to stand trial," Lamola said.

Before their court appearance, supporters pushed and shoved to enter the court room, carrying placards that urged the government from extraditing the couple.

Back in South Africa the Bushiris forfeited their 5.5 million rand ($355,700) property after the pair violated their bail conditions.

The visibly relieved pastor walked out of court in the Malawian administrative capital Lilongwe, punching the air and told journalists: "We believe that justice is about to prevail."

"My life is more precious than the assets in South Africa."

($1 = 15.4606 rand)

(Reporting by Frank Phiri; Additional reporting by Alex Winning in Johannesburg; Editing by Nqobile Dludla, William Maclean)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Global Markets: Stocks ascend to record on economic recovery, vaccine outlook
Business

Global Markets: Stocks ascend to record on economic recovery, vaccine outlook

By Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - A gauge of global stocks hit a record and oil prices jumped on Monday as the newest positive data for a potential COVID-19 vaccine and signs of economic recovery in Asia boosted sentiment. U.S. stocks advanced, with the Dow Industrials setting a record as it neared the 30,000 mark for the first time, after pharma company Moderna said its prospective vaccine was 94.5% effective in preventing the illness, which has crushed economies across the globe

Airbnb IPO filing shows third-quarter earnings beating virus with cost cuts, new focus
Business

Airbnb IPO filing shows third-quarter earnings beating virus with cost cuts, new focus

By Anirban Sen and Joshua Franklin (Reuters) - Airbnb Inc's initial public offering (IPO) registration showed on Monday that the home rental startup turned a profit in the third quarter despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as it gears up for one of the most anticipated stock market debuts in recent years. The filing, published ahead of Airbnb's anticipated stock market debut in December, showed a dramatic recovery in its fortunes, after the coronavirus outbreak dragged down its core home rental business during the first half of the year. The slump forced it to lay off 25% of its workforce in May, suspend marketing activities for the year and seek $2 billion (£1.5 billion) emergency funding from investors, including Silver Lake and Sixth Street Partners, at a valuation of $18 billion

Biden says U.S., allies need to set global trade rules to counter China's influence
Business

Biden says U.S., allies need to set global trade rules to counter China's influence

By David Lawder WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Joe Biden said on Monday the United States needed to negotiate with allies to set global trading rules to counter China's growing influence but declined to say whether he would join a new China-backed Asian trade pact signed on Sunday.