Pretoria – The fraud and money laundering trial of Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary was yesterday provisionally postponed to November 1 in their absence in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
Prosecutor Alicia Roos told Judge Papi Masopa that this was pending ongoing extradition proceedings in Malawi.
The case against the the self-proclaimed prophet and Enlightened Christian Gathering royalty was supposed to be heard from yesterday and had been set down until June 18 following their arrest in February 2019.
They are facing several charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to more than R15 million.
The Bushiris were at the time released on R100 000 bail each by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court.
Their case was transferred to the high court, but they sneaked out of the country and fled to their home in Malawi.
The couple are also accused of contravening South Africa’s exchange control regulations by paying about R19m for a private jet, which has meanwhile been forfeited to the State.
Bushiri, in a lengthy affidavit before the court, earlier fought tooth and nail to retain the plane. He said the plane was bought with legitimate proceeds from his work.
He blamed a conspiracy and a vendetta by some people against him due to his popularity as some of the reasons charges of fraud and money laundering were brought against him and his wife.
The prosecution, however, claimed that the aircraft was “the proceeds of unlawful activities” and instrumental in the alleged crimes Bushiri was said to have committed.
The Bushiris’ extradition application is meanwhile expected to be heard by a Malawi court on June 4.
The couple is fighting extradition, because they believe they will not receive a fair trial if they return to South Africa.
They handed themselves over to police in Malawi after Interpol issued a warrant for their arrest.
Pretoria has since formally requested Lilongwe to send the couple back to stand trial in South Africa.