A major political battle is raging between South Africa and Malawi over what may have been a ploy by Malawian President Lazarus Chakwera over his friend, a pastor accused of plotting a pyramid scheme. of millions of millions of dollars that were on bail to smuggle into Malawi.
The office of the Malawian president has reportedly requested that the incident look “very nasty”, as one of the Nations said.
High-level government sources are convinced that there is a connection between President Chakwera’s visit to see President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ‘miraculous’ disappearance of Pastor Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary from SA to arrive in Malawi within hours . Chakwera’s return.
Bushiri is a self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the Enlightenment Christian Gathering Church.
He and his wife, who preached to large congregations in SA after obtaining Malawian diplomatic passports here – although they are not diplomats either – are accused of running a US $ 6.5 million scheme. theft, money laundering and fraud.
They were released among the cheering crowd after being granted $ 13,000 bail days before Chakwera’s visit.
The Malawian president was in SA to inform Ramaphosa, the current president of the African Union, about an ‘uprising’ at home. But sources here say it was almost certainly a cover to allow Bushiri’s escape. The Malawian leader, who was known to have been friends with Bushiri before coming to power, was in SA on Thursday.
Suspect, according to sources, there was an announcement late at night of a delay in the flight of Chakwera from SA to the presidential meeting due to an unexplained “clerical” problem.
Within hours of the subsequent announcement that Chakwera had returned to Malawi, the Bushiris were on social media and told their supporters that they were home again.
Instead of withholding bail, the couple said they had made a “withdrawal” of themselves from SA due to numerous death threats.
The couple, who deny the charges against them, said they had lodged a complaint with the SA police about the threats, but nothing had been done to protect them.
The couple allegedly gave away all passports and travel documents, as well as undertook not to flee, when granted bail.
Questions are now flying here and in Malawi about how the couple escaped, as their names would definitely have been on the border post and airport toll lists.
They told their supporters that they flew out of SA on Wednesday, without further explanation.
Ramaphosa is reportedly ‘furious’ because he was used ‘as a piston’, as one official put it, so that Chakwera could get his old friend out of SA.
The SA official has asked questions to their counterparts in Malawi and the case will be raised early next week, the Nation has learned.
Interpol and other international policing arrangements are likely to be called upon to force Malawi’s hand to arrest the couple and transport them to SA for trial.
It remains unclear whether the Bushiris left SA on a regular flight, although this seems unlikely to officials.
If so, it raises many questions about what passports they traveled to do so, issued when and by whom, and how they passed local customs.
Inside sources it is said that the ‘overwhelming suspicion’ is rather that they escaped the Malawian presidential jet, despite the harsh denial of Chakwera and his spokesperson.
There is now expected to be a major diplomatic outburst, as according to sources in Malawi, it seems unlikely that Chakwera will allow the re-arrest and return to SA for the trial of Bushiri and his wife.