Enlightened Christian Gathering Church (ECG) leader Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary were yesterday arrested for fraud and money laundering in South Africa.
The controversial prophet was arrested by the Hawks in Rustenburg, North West province. The Hawks’ case against the pair, concerns alleged offences of fraud, money laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA), committed from 2015, in relation to Exchange Control Regulations related to foreign currency totalling about US$1 147 200.
The couple who run several business enterprises in South Africa and abroad are expected to appear before the Pretoria Commercial Crime Court on Monday.
ECG spokesperson Maynard Manyowa confirmed the arrest.
This (Friday) morning, around 07:00 in the morning armed members of the police stormed Sparkling Waters Hotel in Rustenburg, South Africa. We were later made aware that they were members of the Directorate for Priority Investigations (Hawks). They took the Prophet and our mother Prophetess Mary Bushiri in handcuffs to Pretoria.”
Manyowa said the Hawks charged Bushiri with fraud and money laundering.
“As you will remember, from last year, we have struggled with reports that our father was guilty.”
He is currently being held at a Pretoria police station.
Prophet Bushiri accompanied by his wife and lawyer Terrence Baloyi on Monday, appeared before the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission) to explain the circumstances surrounding the deaths of three women, following a stampede at his church on December 2018.
The commission was mediating between ECG and the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco). Sanco has been calling for the church to be closed since the incident.
Meanwhile, the CRL Rights Commission yesterday found that the call by Sanco for Prophet Bushiri to leave the country is discriminatory.
The finding comes after the CRL Rights Commission launched an investigation into the deaths of three women who were killed during a stampede at the church in December 2018. Sanco representatives, who also appeared before the commission, called for the church to be closed and for Prophet Bushiri to go back to Malawi, his home country.
“The demands that Bushiri must leave are discriminatory. It is the responsibility of the department of home affairs, under the Immigration Act, to administer any immigration matter,” said Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, chairperson of the CRL.
She said Sanco’s demands that the ECG church close down were unwarranted and “against the spirit and letter of the right to freedom of religion in terms of the constitution.