Shepherd Bushiri extradition could take seven years
Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary knew exactly what they were doing when they fled to Malawi and now, what started out as a criminal case against an alleged money launderer has morphed into an international relations paradox.
Bushiri’s alleged right-hand man turns against him
The fraud and money laundering case the Bushiris and three other suspects are charged with was heard at the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court, on Thursday.
One of the accused, Willah Mudolo, was very forthcoming with his intention to comply with bail conditions if they were granted to him.
As reported by Pretoria News, Mudolo’s defence is clear: He was unaware of the movement of monies in and out of his business account but he has evidence to prove that his close partner, Bushiri, was the mastermind.
“I intend to plead not guilty and will provide evidence that all funds that were paid into the business account of Rising Estate without my knowledge on the instructions of Bushiri were repaid to his nominated account and various beneficiaries,” he said.
‘Shepherd Bushiri extradition could take seven years’ – Lawyers
However eventful Thursday’s proceedings were, there was still an unsettling air in the room. The Bushiris were meant to appear with their co-accused on the dock but their grand escape has thrust this case into the political arena.
In South Africa, Bushiri and his wife are deemed as fugitives of the state. In their home country, however, they enjoy untethered freedom, much like a couple not wanted internationally for allegedly siphoning billions of rand in a money-laundering scheme that was allegedly blanketed by his Enlightened Christian Gathering church.
While it is not known if South Africa has made an extradition request, Mudolo’s lawyers revealed that the complex international relations process may delay the entire case for two to seven years.
For this reason, the lawyers argued, it would be considerate of the court to grant Mudolo bail and unlike Bushiri, he has no intentions of escaping with his family.
“I do not have any influence in my country of origin. My whole life, including my wife and children and all of my business interests, are vested in this country,” he told the court, placing his R25 million property in Sandhurst as bail surety.
No judgment was handed down on Mudolo’s bail plea when matters concluded, on Thursday. In Malawi, the Bushiris are expected back in court on Monday 14 December where a Lilongwe high court is expected to make a ruling on the constitutionality of their arrest.