The continuation of Enlightened Christian Gathering leader Shepherd Bushiri and wife Mary’s extradition case will depend on South Africa’s presentation of their extradition papers after Lilongwe Principal Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba adjourned the case sine die.
On Wednesday, Malawi Police arrested the Bushiris in Lilongwe after being prompted by South African police—through Interpol— who are accusing the two of, among other allegations, rape, fraud, money laundering and jumping bail.
But, Thursday , Nyimba released the Bushiris unconditionally—with no bail bond or sureties—describing their arrest as illegal.
He, however, ordered the two to present themselves to the court when summoned.
“The release of the two is based on [the fact] that there was no warrant of arrest from court or authority from Minister of Homeland Security and the court [in Malawi] will not be involved in arguing [about] what happened in South Africa but will act independently and not be influenced by anything. The arrest of the Bushiris was illegal as it did not follow proper procedures,” Nyimba said.
He farther said the court was aware of the bilateral relations between Malawi and South Africa but was quick to point out that it was crucial that the rule of law prevails.
He, therefore, ordered the unconditional release of the Bushiris and ordered that the next appearance of the two in court should come in form of summons and not arrest.
There was jubilation outside the court premises as the Bushiris’ sympathisers ululated, sang and danced in joy as they saw their ‘Man of God’ walk to freedom.
Bushiri, who looked exhausted, hugged and kissed his wife and looked up to the sky.
In an interview outside the court, Bushiri thanked God for the victory.
Ironically, it was a mixed day for the Bushiris, who Thursday morning lost their R5.5 million residence in Pretoria after a magistrate court in South Africa ordered the forfeiture of the property following failure by the Bushiris to report for bail at a police station Thursday .
But Bushiri said no amount of property was worth more than his life.
“There is nothing more important than life,” Bushiri said.
Speaking after the ruling, the Bushiris’ lawyer Wapona Kita said the ruling meant that the case had been adjourned indefinitely and that his clients were free people.
“This means that the Bushiris will appear before the court by way of summon when the South Africa government will be ready with the extradition case. The police cannot arrest my clients,” he said.
Lawyer representing the State, Steven Kayuni, could not comment on the magistrate’s ruling.
In court Kita argued that his clients be released unconditionally because there was no warrant of arrest from the court, hence their detention was unlawful.
He further argued that the two could not continue to be in detention because the government of South Africa had not made a formal request to extradite them.
Kita asked the court to grant the two bail, saying they would comply with the court’s decisions.
Kayuni had earlier told the court that the Bushiris were arrested following a warrant of arrest issued by Interpol in Pretoria on allegations that they jumped bail in the Rainbow Nation.
He asked the court to remand the couple for 30 days pending the extradition process.
But Nyimba did not find merit in the State’s arguments.