Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola weighed in on the developing story around self-proclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiri’s flight from South Africa, seemingly to avoid his impending prosecution.
Minister Lamola took to Twitter to share the Southern African Development Committee (SADC) policy on extradition.
Prophet Bushiri flees South Africa
SADC extradition protocol
In the social media post, Minister Lamola named Malawi specifically in pointing out that the nation is a signatory of the SADC extradition protocol, among others.
“Malawi is a signatory of the SADC protocol and other legal instruments on extraditions. We will not hesitate to invoke these provisions and instruments to assist law enforcement agencies to extradite fugitives of justice.”
Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola
The Minister has indicated that South Africa will not hesitate to make Malawi aware of its responsibilities in terms of extradition, and insist on their assistance to “law enforcement agencies to extradite fugitives of justice”.
Requirements for extradition
In broad terms, the SADC extradition protocol requires SADC signatories to extradite a person who is wanted for prosecution, imposition or enforcement of a sentence in the requesting state for an offence covered by the extradition agreement.
According to the SADC, protocol states must acquiesce to extradition requests where the request pertains to an offence that is punishable in both countries.
Furthermore, the offence must carry the possibility of imprisonment or “deprivation of liberty” for more than a year.
This definition is suitably broad for the Malawi government to be in a challenging position should they decide not to co-operate with the South African authorities in bringing Shepherd Bushiri back to South Africa to stand trial.
Bushiri’s contravention of bail conditions
Shepard Bushiri, leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) Church, and his wife were granted bail of R200 000 each on charges of fraud and money laundering.
As part of their bail conditions, the pair also had to surrender the deed for their home in Centurion to the NPA. They were barred from travelling outside of Gauteng and North West provinces.
The time, magistrate Thandi Theledi said that Shepherd and Mary Bushiri were “barred from travelling anywhere else in the Republic of South Africa”, Theledi clarified:
“They can only travel within Gauteng and North West province until the case is finalised”.
In addition, the couple were not allowed to comment about witnesses, the prosecution team or anyone else involved in the case during their public church services.