Pastor Shepherd Bushiri says he and his wife, Mary, have faced a lot of challenges in the past five weeks, including the alleged attempted murder of Mary.
He said his “wife [was] poisoned to within an inch of her life”.
Bushiri was addressing thousands of congregants via the church’s prophetic channel and on a live Facebook feed on Wednesday night.
Bushiri, who heads the Enlightened Christian Gathering church, was speaking hours after he and Mary were granted bail, following four days in police custody. He said he could not sleep before expressing his gratitude. The pair was arrested on charges of fraud in Rustenburg on Friday.
“The Hawks’ case against the pair concerns alleged offences of fraud, money laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA). The crimes were committed from 2015 in relation to Exchange Control Regulations related to foreign currency in an amount of $1,147,200 (about R15.3m),” Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said after the couple’s arrest last week.
Bushiri said he and his wife had missed the congregants during their incarceration.
He thanked church members who had come out in their numbers during his two court appearances, carrying placards and pictures of the couple as they knelt and prayed in tongues outside the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Court.
The pastor also thanked Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama, who said Bushiri was being demonised because he was a “successful black man”.
Bushiri described the past few weeks as being filled with “immense attacks”.
These, he said, included protest action which erupted after three congregants were killed in a stampede at the church on December 28 2018, demands for him to leave the country and demands for his church to be shut down.
Bushiri, known as Major 1 and also fondly referred to by congregants as Papa, said through it all, “God had been faithful”.