The South African police service’s crack unit, The Hawks, have denied claims of a personal vendetta against Malawi-born Pastor Shepherd Bushiri of the Pretoria-based Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church.
“People will always talk. Let them talk because we are here to work. That is our duty‚” police spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said of the accusations on Monday, 4 January 2019.
He added: “We don’t look at who we are investigating and the state of the person. If you start doing that‚ you are making a mistake.”
ECG members and leader of an opposition Black First Land First party, Andile Mngxitama, have accused the Hawks of being used by the South African government to bring down Pastor Shepard Bushiri who, with his wife Mary, appeared in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Monday.
The couple, who run several business enterprises in South Africa and abroad‚ were arrested on Friday, 1 February 2019, on fraud and money laundering charges involving more than US$1.1 million.
On his part soon after the arrest, Bushiri also accused the police on his website of trying to frisk him and the ECG of US$700,000 in an implicit exchange for the Hawks to drop a four-year investigation of the pastor.
The police have not denied this online allegation on Bushiri’s website.
A male congregant of the ECG demonstrating outside the Pretoria court with thousands of others in support of the Major One, Bushiri’s nickname, said: “It is jealousy (on the part of the authorities).
“They just want to harass the Major One and take his properties,” he said.