africa

Feb. 12, 2022

OWN CORRESPONDENT

3 min read

Bushiri extradition case delayed by argument over SA witnesses

Bushiri extradition case delayed by argument over SA witnesses

Self-proclaimed prophet, Shepherd Bushiri

Story highlights

  • The Bushiri extradition case is expected to return to a lower court in Malawi, however, a date is not yet clear
  • This after Malawi High Court ordered the proceedings continue, but left issues of SA witnesses within discretion of lower court
  • The State and the defence appear to have different positions on the issue of SA witnesses

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WHILE it is not yet clear when the extradition proceedings of self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, will begin, the State in Malawi is of the view that the physical presence of South African witnesses is not necessary.

Malawian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Steve Kayuni said the High Court has made it clear that the physical presence of the witnesses runs counter to the extradition process.

“We will seek the direction of the lower court on when the matter will proceed, but we hope that the matter will proceed very soon," Kayuni told News24.

This comes after the Malawi High Court ordered that a local magistrate's court should continue with extradition committal proceedings of the Bushiris.

In the judgment delivered virtually on Tuesday, Judge Redson Kapindu gave several directives, including that the physical presence of South African-based witnesses was not the only way to authenticate evidence. 

This comes after the State in Malawi sought to review a lower court's ruling that South African witnesses should appear in the Malawi court instead of via video conferencing.

News24 previously reported that prosecutors in Malawi applied for the South African witnesses to appear via video conferencing, citing, among other things, COVID-19.

Kapindu stated that, while the magistrate had not erred in law, the physical presence of witnesses was not an inflexible rule of thumb, and that there were other ways of authenticating witness statements, for example, through a competent court in South Africa.

Kayuni added that the State hoped for an option where the deposition could be made before South African courts, and the record then transmitted to Malawi in an acceptable form.

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But Bushiri's lawyer, Wapona Kita, told News24 that the defence was still maintaining its position, which is that witnesses from South Africa must appear in a Malawian court, and that the alternative was merely an option.

He said: “It's an option. The court has said [the] preliminary inquiry entails physical hearing of witnesses,” but has also added that the magistrate should be open to entertain an application for virtual hearing in appropriate circumstances.

Bushiri and his wife are wanted in South Africa in connection with fraud and money laundering, allegedly to the tune of R102 million. News24

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