TSHWANE, May 8 – Charismatic Enlightened Christian Gathering leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary, who were scheduled to appear in court on Friday, appeared on Tuesday in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court because of security concerns.
Spokesperson for the elite crime fighting police unit, the Hawks, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi told African News Agency that there was nothing sinister about the Bushiris appearing earlier than the scheduled date, and it was actually the state which sought the early appearance.
“No, it’s not sinister. There is nothing specific about the security concerns but you saw what happened the last time [at court]. We did not want such disturbances. We are at elections and I think it was prudent that we negotiate with the defence,” Mulaudzi explained.
“They [the Bushiri camp] were very much cooperative.”
In February, Bushiri and his wife were released on R100,000 bail each.
The couple appeared before the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court where they face charges of fraud and money laundering.
They had spent nights been behind bars after their arrest at their plush Sparkling Waters Resort in Rustenburg in the North West province.
Bail conditions include that Bushiri and his wife reside in Gauteng and North West provinces in South Africa.
At each court appearance in February, streets adjacent to the court were closed off as thousands of ECG members descended on the streets, demanding Bushiri’s release.
When the couple was eventually released, a SAPS armoured personnel carrier (Nyala) was used to whisk the Bishiris away as thousands of frenzied supporters gave chase.
The large crowd of ECG followers chased after the vehicle convoy which left the court, along Visagie Street, and all the way into Thabo Sehume Street, bringing Pretoria CBD to a standstill. (ANA)