Self-proclaimed prophet and fugitive Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary each have five passports – all of them Malawian, Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs on Tuesday.

Furthermore, when the Hawks was investigating the Bushiris last year, they came across “identity documents that were problematic”, Motsoaledi said.

Mary Bushiri entered South Africa through OR Tambo International Airport and said she had a permanent residence permit issued in 1997.

“Now, obviously, this is surprising,” Motsoaledi said, as they didn’t have any record of her entering the country in 1997.

They were first recorded officially entering the country in 2013. In the following three years, Bushiri registered companies. He should have applied for a business visa, but never did, so his businesses were unlawful.

In 2016, the Bushiris applied for a permanent residence permit and declared under oath that they entered the country for the first time in 2015. This permit was granted in 2016.

According to Motsoaledi, this was issued irregularly.

“The stay of Mr and Mrs Bushiri in South Africa is not regular,” Motsoaledi said.

He added that there were “lots and lots [of] anomalies”.

For his bail hearing, Home Affairs’ advice was that he should be regarded as a flight risk and should not be granted bail, Motsoaledi said.

“It is common cause we’re suffering from porous borders,” Motsoaledi said.

“We believe people who are a flight risk can go through any of our porous borders.”

Motsoaledi said the airplane on which the Malawian president left, was searched by the police and all the passports, bar the president’s and the first lady’s, were checked.

The Bushiris’ departure took place in the same week that President Lazarus Chakwera visited South Africa for talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The Enlightened Christian Gathering church leader, his wife Mary and three others are accused of fraud involving around R102 million.

The couple was out on R200 000 bail each when it emerged they had not appeared for their Friday check-in with police – a requirement in terms of their bail conditions.

On Saturday, Bushiri said in an interview that they had fled because they believed their lives were in danger in South Africa and they would not get a fair trial.

The meeting continues.

Credit: News24

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