Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri and wife Mary Wednesday escaped another arrest attempt, which could have been part of the State’s latest move as it tries to extradite the two to South Africa.
The State, through office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), applied to the magistrates’ court for a fresh arrest as part of extradition processes, as stipulated in Section 8 of the Extradition Act.
However, yet-to-be-confirmed DPP Steve Kayuni rescinded the application after the defence objected to it. Instead, he said, the two fugitives should be summoned by police and appear before the magistrates’ court to commence the extradition case.
According to Kayuni, this was in compliance with the subordinate court’s ruling made on November 19 2020, in which Principal Resident Magistrate Viva Nyimba ordered that the two could only appear before the courts by way of summons following their “unlawful” arrest when they handed themselves over to the Malawi Police Service.
“We believe that the law has to be followed. This is the third stage of extradition proceedings and, considering that the court specifically ordered that there should be summons [and] not warrant of arrest, we agreed that the warrant of arrest should be issued and has been issued by the court.
“But there is a specific endorsement that the police officers a warrant has been addressed to should summon the two to come to court on March 8 2021,” he said.
While the court was in session, a group of police officers were seen roving around the court premises.
Bushiri’s lawyer Wapona Kita pressed for an assurance from the DPP and police that what had been endorsed would be followed by relevant officers.
“We wanted an assurance that they would not be overzealous and go behind the agreement which has been made and arrest them. So, both the DPP and police have given the assurance that my clients will not be arrested,” he said.
Nyimba has adjourned the case to March 8.
When the two fugitives were arrested by law enforcers here, Nyimba adjourned the case sine die and released them unconditionally.
He also ordered the two to present themselves to the court when summoned.
The Bushiris were arrested in November 2020 after they fled from South Africa, claiming their lives were in danger.
They face charges such as money laundering, fraud, theft, forgery and rape in the Rainbow Nation.