The South African government has sent an extradition request to Malawi to demand the return of self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and wife to Pretoria to face corruption charges following their jumping bail last month, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola confirmed on Friday.The Bushiris, accused of theft, fraud and money laundering involving US$7 million, were on a US$26,000 bail bond when they skipped the country for Malawi, claiming they could not get a fair trial in a South African court.
According to Lamola, his government sent the request using the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Extradition.
“As previously indicated, the law provides for this extradition request to be submitted within 30 days. However, this extradition request has been brought within a period of two weeks.
“The submission follows a request for a provisional arrest sent through the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) in terms Article 10 of the SADC protocol,” the minister said.
He added: “We note this (Interpol warrant) has been appealed by the fugitives. We are closely monitoring the appeal processes by the Malawian authorities.”
He said South Africa is convinced that Malawi would hand back the Bushiris to Pretoria so that they answer to the charges against them.
“Given our sound and healthy diplomatic, strategic and political relationship, and our common citizenship of the SADC community, we are convinced Malawi will honour the letter and spirit of every provision of their international and regional obligations,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, the Malawi authorities have confirmed receiving the extradition request for the Bushiris.
“Yes, we have received a formal extradition request from the South Africa government,” Malawi Information Minister Gospel Kazakh said on Friday when asked to confirm receiving the extradition request from Pretoria.
Malawi’s law authorities would now handle South Africa’s extradition request to repatriate the Bushiris, Kazako said.
On Tuesday the couple took their case to Malawi’s Lilongwe High Court to clarify the constitutionality of their arrest by the Malawi police using an Interpol arrest warrant.
This case was adjourned to 14 December following the court’s request to the Bushiris to provide it with more information and details.