Bushiri with his lawyer, Wapona Kita outside a Malawi court
- South African witnesses must appear in the Malawi court, magistrate Patrick Chirwa ruled.
- This comes after the Bushiris’ legal team argued that witnesses must be summoned.
- The State raised issues with the ruling and have been given two weeks to file an application opposing it.
South African witnesses, whose statements are included in the extradition request for self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary, must appear in the Malawi lower court, magistrate Patrick Chirwa ruled on Monday.
“Witnesses [should come], those witnesses, if they choose to come, we expect them to come so that we can cross-examine them according to the law,” Bushiri’s lawyer Wapona Kita told the media after court proceedings.
Chirwa ruled – among other things – that the State did not follow the law by relying on affidavits sent from South Africa and that it should have “interviewed witnesses themselves, and assessed the evidence as well”.
In addition, the State had been effectively ordered to make sure it interviewed witnesses from South Africa and that those witnesses must appear in a Malawi court to sign under oath as well as to be questioned by the defence.
News24 earlier reported that the Bushiris’ legal team argued during court proceedings that witnesses, whose statements appear in the extradition documents, should be summoned to Malawi.The State, however, opposed this, saying this was a preliminary inquiry, not a trial.
During proceedings in the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court on Monday, the State raised issues with the ruling, mainly concerned with the protection of witnesses and their testimonies and whether the court could hear the matter in-camera instead of in an open court.
Chirwa subsequently gave the State two weeks to file its new application and further noted that “this should be the last application/preliminary objection on this matter unless something extremely compelling comes up”.
The Bushiris were excused from Monday’s proceedings following the death of their eight-year-old daughter, Israella.
The pair are wanted in South Africa in connection with fraud and money laundering, allegedly to the tune of R102 million.They, however, fled the country to their homeland just a few days after the Pretoria Central Magistrate’s Court granted them bail of R200 000 each under strict conditions.
More updates to follow.