…By Roland Peterson for TDPel Media.
The Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services has confirmed the arrival of a delegation from South Africa, led by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, in Malawi.
The purpose of their visit is to participate in the extradition hearing of Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary Bushiri, who are fugitives wanted in connection with a fraud and money laundering case.
Extradition Hearing Date:
The extradition hearing is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, 30 May 2023.
Shepherd Bushiri and Mary Bushiri were the leaders of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church in Pretoria, Gauteng.
They were arrested in 2020 but managed to escape to Malawi shortly after being granted bail of R200,000 each by the Pretoria Central Magistrate’s Court.
The charges against them are related to an alleged fraud and money laundering scheme amounting to R102 million.
The Department’s Role as a Central Authority:
According to spokesperson Chrispin Phiri, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is leading the delegation to fulfill its role as a central authority.
In the context of extradition, a central authority refers to a designated government department responsible for receiving, managing, and executing extradition requests.
Witnesses and the Extradition Act of Malawi:
The Malawi High Court, in its judgment on 13 February 2023, clarified that section 6 of the Extradition Act of Malawi defines the witnesses or relevant witnesses for a preliminary inquiry or extradition hearing.
These witnesses are expected to provide answers and convince the court regarding section 6 of the Malawi Extradition Act.
The court ruled that state agents who can comprehensively address these issues are required to testify.
Physical Presence of Witnesses:
Initially, the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court had allowed witnesses to give evidence virtually from South Africa before a South African court.
However, Shepherd Bushiri and Mary Bushiri argued that the witnesses should be physically present in the Malawian court to testify.
The court ruled in favor of the couple, stating that the witnesses from South Africa must attend the extradition case in Malawi in person.
The arrival of the South African delegation marks an important step in the extradition hearing of Shepherd Bushiri and Mary Bushiri.
The case involves allegations of fraud and money laundering, and the couple has been fighting against virtual testimony by witnesses.
The outcome of the hearing on 30 May 2023 will determine the next steps in this high-profile case.