Bushiri says he will remain in Malawi

Shepherd Bushiri

Cape Town – Fugitive Shepherd Bushiri on Wednesday signalled he would not return to South Africa because he did not believe he would receive a fair trial.

In a statement issued from his native Malawi, Bushiri accused South African Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi of prejudging the twin legal processes he faced in South Africa.

“In this regard, it would never be an understatement to conclude that of the fears of the injustices that I am fearing, the reason I came to Malawi, has just been confirmed by Honourable Motsoaledi, MP,” he said in his statement.

He implied Motsoaledi had no right to tell fellow MPs on Tuesday he and his wife Mary’s South African residence permits were fraudulent.

The minister told Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs his department felt, for that reason, coupled with the porosity of South Africa’s borders, the couple were a flight risk and should not have been granted bail while they face trial for fraud and money laundering.

The Bushiris fled South Africa last week, causing diplomatic turbulence with Malawi as law enforcement authorities feared he may have been trying to abscond on the plane of President Lazarus Chakwera.

South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, the Hawks, delayed Chakwera’s departure, after talks in Pretoria with President Cyril Ramaphosa, to search the presidential plane and scrutinise the identities of all passengers, according to Motsoaledi.

Hours after the minister revealed this, Bushiri reportedly handed himself over to the police in Lilongwe in Malawi.

In his statement, Bushiri denied he was asking the political powers in Malawi to shield him.

“I need to underline that I came to Malawi not to seek political intervention. I came to Malawi to seek justice before the constitution of the Republic of Malawi,” he said.

“I have a strong belief in the constitution of Malawi because it protects its every citizen, including my wife and I.”

He added: “Because of that, I will be presenting myself before law enforcement agencies this morning to legally explain and defend the decision that I made to come to Malawi.”

Bushiri maintained he was innocent.

“As of now, there is no court in the world that has proven me guilty. I may be subjected by media and public trial, but I maintain my innocence until proven guilty.

“It is unfortunate, therefore, to have the minister of home affairs in South Africa intentionally and unfairly mislead the people of South Africa and the whole world in this regard.

“I cannot have a fair trial in South Africa!”

African News Agency (ANA)