Flamboyant Prophet Shepherd Bushiri has come under more security scrutiny in South Africa since the country’s elite police force started investigating him for alleged money laundering offences.
The investigations are being carried out by the country’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) popularly called the Hawks. The Hawks targets organised crime, economic crime, corruption and other serious crimes referred to it by either the South African president or the country’s police service.
Last week, South African airport authorities confiscated Bushiri’s laptop and mobile phones and demanded passwords to check the devices.
Bushiri was returning from the United States (US) where he had gone to preach.
This, we understand, was the second time Bushiri was subjected to this kind of security scrutiny. The first time was when he landed in South Africa from Malawi. They again mounted unprecedented searches on his bags and plane.
But the treatment of Bushiri has irked some activists in Malawi, who want the South African authorities to, without harassment, conduct their investigations.
Speaking to journalists in Lilongwe Monday, activists, led by Robert Mkwezalamba, appealed to the South African government to stop persecuting Bushiri.
“As citizens of Malawi, we have been compelled to make this statement after observing the worrying trends and suspicious elements in the way the Hawks’ investigations of Prophet Bushiri are being handled and, again, the general spectre of how he is being treated in South Africa,” Mkwezalamba said.
He said it is sad that when Bushiri returned from the United States (US) recently, South Africa’s Home Land Security took all his phones and laptop with passwords in the name of being sent by South African police, but he was not told the objectives and findings.
“We are aware that money laundering is a serious offence anywhere in the world. However, we are surprised that, up until now, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri has not been officially communicated to by the Hawks regarding the investigations.
“This is quite surprising and very suspicious for the Hawks to let the suspect read about their fate in the media,” reads a statement the CSOs issued.
It adds: “We find this not only just [sic] unprofessional, but also retrogressive as it has the effect of traumatising the prophet, including affecting his integrity as well as reputation as a man of God whose dealings are always just and publicly shared through Prophetic Channel and other publications. Such persecutions cannot continue.
“We appeal to South African Police and secret operatives to ensure they discharge their duties in an acceptable manner and to the best of their professional expectations,” Mkwezalamba said.
Hawks spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, parried away the accusations.
“We did not thumb suck the so-called allegations. They were brought to our attention and we have a responsibility to investigate without fear or favour,” Mulaudzi said.
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