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Chakwera sees Bushiri matter as legal

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Bushiri

State House has said President Lazarus Chakwera will not meddle in the issue of Shepherd Bushiri and wife Mary’s escape from South Africa, saying the matter could best be handled by law enforcement agencies.

Briefing reporters in Lilongwe Monday, State House Director of Communications Sean Kampondeni, who is also Chakwera’s Special Assistant, said the President, who is currently relaxing at his Mangochi residence, sees the matter as legal in nature; hence, it would best be handled by law enforcers.

“It is not the responsibility of the Office of the President to be commenting on the same. And, so, we have no answers in any way, shape or form as to what Malawi law enforcement agents are going to do about the extradition request or what they are going to do about the presence of the individual in Malawi because all those things have to do with laws that have or may not have been broken. And it is law enforcement agencies that are responsible for determining and ascertaining what to do about those issues,” Kampondeni said.

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Monday, the Pretoria Magistrates Court in South Africa issued a warrant of arrest for the Bushiris and revoked their bail for contravening conditions when they failed to report at a police station on two occasions on Friday and Monday.

Hawks acting spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale said the Bushiris had also forfeited the R200,000 sureties they each provided to the court as one of the conditions attached to their bail.

Mogale said the Bushiris risked losing their residence if they would not present themselves before court on Thursday.

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The South African government Monday said it had begun the process of extraditing Bushiri and Mary, after they were charged with fraud and money laundering.

However, Kampondeni said the Malawi government was waiting for official communication from the South African government on the extradition process and would cooperate accordingly.

South Africa Immigration Attorney, Gary Eisenberg, told eNCA Monday that Bushiri could be arrested in Malawi using the warrant of arrest issued in South Africa.

He said the extradition process in Malawi would start with the Malawi government receiving an extradition request for a provisional arrest pending a full extradition pack being received through diplomatic channels in Malawi.

“Bushiri could be arrested through a warrant which is effected in South Africa. That’s how it works,” Eisenberg said.

He, however, said it was not up to the South African authorities to extradite Bushiri.

“You can request the extradition of Bushiri from Malawi but it would be up to the Malawian authorities to decide whether to surrender Bushiri to the South African authorities.

“It’s up to the Malawian authorities, in terms of Malawian laws, to decide what to do; not even the South African authorities at all. So we will see how the machine of justice starts working in Malawi and Bushiri has the right to protect his own interests in terms of whatever extradition legislations Malawi has adopted domestically. [It has] nothing to do with an extradition agreement although an extradition agreement exists, the Sadc Protocol on Extradition.

“So it really depends on what the Malawian authorities would decide to do at the end of the day,” Eisenberg said.

Analysts have indicated that the Bushiris’ escape from South Africa has the potential to ignite a diplomatic spat between Lilongwe and Pretoria.

Chancellor College law expert Garton Kamchedzera said on Sunday the matter could ignite a diplomatic spat if Malawi neglects the rule of law and decides to protect the two suspects.

“Otherwise, if Malawi disassociates itself from the fugitives’ breach of bail conditions and follows the law, which is not in favour of these fugitives, then any diplomatic fallout could quickly be reversed,” Kamchedzera said.

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