South Africa-Religion-Bail

S/Africa: Court frees Bushiri, wife on bail

APA-Pretoria (South Africa)

Malawi-born and South Africa-based controversial Pastor Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary have been freed from police custody after paying a US$7,000 bail each at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday. The case resumes on 10 May.

The police arrested the couple on Friday over allegations of fraud, money-laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. They made their first court appearance on Monday but were remanded in custody to Wednesday.

Supporters of Bushiri, who is also known to his 700,000 congregants at the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church as Prophet or Major One, on Wednesday flooded the street outside the court at 0400 GMT to sing, dance and pray for him to be freed.

The supporters burst into celebrations when they saw the pastor and his wife freed on bail in Pretoria.

In confirming their arrest on Friday, police's crime-fighting unit the Hawks said: "The Hawks’ case against the pair concerns alleged offences of fraud, money-laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act committed from 2015 in relation to exchange control regulations related to foreign currency in an amount of US$1.1 million.”

Last year the press revealed that the Hawks had been investigating the charismatic pastor for money-laundering after some senior members (South Africans) of the church leadership claimed that Bushiri was sending an estimated US$1.1 million a month to Malawi, his country of birth.

 The money was allegedly transported out of South Africa in Bushiri's private jet and other vehicles.

NM/jn/APA

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