SADC extradition protocol irrelevant in Bushiri extradition case

‘Prophet’ Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary appear before the CRL Commission last week. African News Agency (ANA)
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RUSTENBERG – The Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocol on extradition which the South African government used in a request to Malawi will not be in proceedings against fugitive Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary, local media in that country reported.

The charismatic preacher and his wife are wanted in South Africa, from where they fled ahead of trial for fraud and money laundering charges related to an investment scheme valued at about R99 million.

The SADC protocol is not part of the laws of Malawi and therefore irrelevant in the case, news website Malawi24 reported on Wednesday, citing a ruling by magistrate Patrick Chirwa who said he would only rely on the 1972 extradition agreement between Malawi and South Africa.

Bushiri’s lawyer Wapona Kita, was expected to file an application in the Lilongwe high court for a review of Chirwa’s decision to proceed with the hearing. The case was postponed to June 4.

Bushiri, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church, and his wife were arrested in South Africa but fled to their home country Malawi after being granted bail, claiming they were not safe in the host nation.

They handed themselves to police in Malawi after international police organisation Interpol issued a warrant for their arrest.

Lilongwe magistrate Viva Nyimba released them unconditionally, stating that their arrest in Malawi was unlawful because there was no formal request from South Africa. Nyimba ruled that the couple could be summoned to court but not arrested.

Pretoria has since formally requested Lilongwe to send back the couple to stand trial for theft, fraud, forgery as well as failing to comply with their bail conditions in South Africa.

African News Agency (ANA)