Prophet Bushiri & Wife Remains in Custody for Fraud Allegations

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Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary will have to wait until tomorrow to hear whether or not they will be able to proceed with their formal bail application.

The couple remains in custody after the State requested a postponement in order to afford the investigating team time to verify several key factors.

The Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader ‘prophet’ Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary had appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on charges related to fraud and money laundering worth R102-million on Wednesday (yesterday).

This is the duo’s second court appearance in two weeks but not with the unwavering support of their spiritual sons and daughters who believe ‘Papa and Mama’ are just being persecuted.

The church’s website also has the prophet, Majos One saying men of God “who have been blessed with a fortune” are often vilified “but, if you read the Bible, you will note that men of God were rich”.

The 37-year-old charismatic pastor and his 39-year-old wife appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court after they were arrested by South Africa’s Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) on Tuesday.

Hawks said: “On Tuesday (yesterday), the team made a further arrest of another couple allegedly involved in the same case. The woman, 39, was arrested at her home, and her husband, 37, after trying to evade the team, handed himself over at Silverton police station with an entourage of attorneys”.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) of South Africa has not released details of the latest allegations against Bushiri and the couple’s bail hearing continues.

However, the Hawks said Willah Mudolo and Zethu Mudolo were also arrested on Saturday, 17 October in the same case.

Willah Mudolo is the founder of the African Development Funding Group.

Media reports said in 2017 Bushiri told congregants they could earn a 50% profit within 30 days if they joined a “commodity investment opportunity”, with the minimum investment starting at R100,000.

Apparently trusting their spiritual father, some congregants invested.

They took cash monies to church as advised and those who could not deliver the cash were told to deposit their investments with Rising Estates, run by Bushiri’s close associates.

Later, some church members claimed they invested in the scheme but had not received any returns.

The ministry’s spokesperson Ephraim Nyondo acknowledged that the Hawks asked to meet “Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Prophetess Mary Bushiri” on Tuesday morning to discuss Rising Estates.

Police arrested Mary, a director at Shepherd Bushiri Investments, at a Sandton property and her husband, whom the Hawks said handed himself over with an “entourage of attorneys” after “attempting to evade the team”.

In a related development, the “Papa and Mama” were arrested on fraud and money laundering charges, involving over R15-million, in February 2019. They appeared in a pre-trial conference last week for the case, which is scheduled to be heard in the Pretoria High Court in May and June 2021. The alleged illegal violation of exchange control regulations for purchasing a 1984 Gulfstream jet for R19-million in cash was also included in the case.

Bushiri has been referred to as one of the richest religious leaders on the continent, worth an estimated $150-million, and is often pictured with his private jet or luxury vehicles. ECG operates in multiple African countries, with 110 branches and a million worshippers in South Africa, Bushiri said in recent court papers.

Bushiri’s Sandton-based company Shepherd Bushiri Investments has interests in mining, real estate, and an airline. Major One launched the Sparkling Waters Hotel and Spa in Magaliesburg in 2018. He is said to have eight hotels across the globe.

The prophet said he ventured into business to support his family as he does not believe the church must support his family.

Major One is a fat cat amongst the charismatic pastors of this time. He has a strong following and lays claims to lots of healings miracles plus signs and wonders.

At one time, he claimed he can walk in the air and proved it by showing a video of himself walking in the air. The video received applause and criticism alike.

He is often not far from allegations and scandals ranging from sexual harassment, rape, extortion and fraud.

One of the highlights of his pastoral career was when he filled up FNB Stadium during his “crossover service” on a New Year’s Eve.

In 2018, a stampede occurred at his Pretoria Showgrounds church leaving three people dead and 17 others injured.

The prophet has often dismissed the various allegations against him. He claims its the work of his detractors and jealous enemies.

He once told an international media outfit that: “I am a businessman and that is separate from being a prophet. My prosperity is from private businesses. Such questions are not asked from leaders of white churches but when an African man prospers, then it’s a problem”.

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