Malawi-born and South Africa-based controversial Pastor Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, have been released from police custody after paying a US$7,000 bail each.
The bail was paid at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday, 6 February 2019. The case resumes on 10 May 2019.
The police arrested the couple on Friday, 1 February 2019, over allegations of fraud, money-laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act. They made their first court appearance on Monday, 4 February 2019 but were remanded in custody to two days later on Wednesday.
Supporters of Bushiri, who is also known to his 700,000 congregants at the Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church as Prophet or Major One, on Wednesday, 6 February 2019, flooded the street outside the court at 0400 GMT to sing, dance and pray for him to be freed.
The supporters burst into celebrations when they saw the pastor and his wife freed on bail in Pretoria.
In confirming their arrest on Friday, police’s crime-fighting unit the Hawks said: “The Hawks’ case against the pair concerns alleged offences of fraud, money-laundering and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act committed from 2015 in relation to exchange control regulations related to foreign currency in an amount of US$1.1 million”.
Last year the press revealed that the Hawks had been investigating the charismatic pastor for money-laundering after some senior members (South Africans) of the church leadership claimed that Bushiri was sending an estimated US$1.1 million a month to Malawi, his country of birth.
The money was allegedly transported out of South Africa in Bushiri’s private jet and other vehicles.