Malawi-born evangelists Shepherd and Mary Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Congregation (ECG) church have handed themselves to Malawi police following Interpol’s all-points bulletin issued to apprehend them on behalf of the South African law authorities.Malawi Police spokesman James Kadadzera confirmed this on Wednesday.
The Pretoria Magistrate Court issued warrants of arrest for the multimillionaire church leaders on Monday after the couple skipped bail last week, and using Interpol, the warrants were sent to Malawi and received on Tuesday, Kadadzera said.
He said the couple were in the Malawi police custody awaiting a court appearance on a date yet to be decided.
According to ECG spokesman Ephraim Nyondo, the Bushiris’ submission to the Malawi law enforcers was part of their mission to seek justice in Malawi following their skipping a $26,000 bail from South Africa.
The ECG leaders were arrested two weeks ago in Pretoria, where the church is based, and charged with theft, fraud and money laundering involving $7.0 million.
The couple, however, secured bail after a two-week court battle.
Days later they slipped out of the country, claiming their lives were in danger due to death threats.
Nyondo said the evangelists’ move to hand themselves over to the Malawi authorities was “a normal process” in which the ECG leaders want to “legally explain and defend” their decision to flee to Malawi.
The Bushiris were “still innocent until proven guilty. As of now, there is no court in the world that has proven the Bushiris as being guilty,” Nyondo said.
He added: “They may be subjected to public and media trial but they maintain their innocence until proven otherwise by a competent court in a fair trial.”
In a statement issued at the weekend after their arrival in Malawi, the Bushiris said they did not run away from a hearing in South Africa.
They had left South Africa for Malawi to use their homeland base as a platform to demand guarantees for a free and fair trial ahead of their return to the docks in the Rainbow Nation, they said.