The legal team of self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, will apply to the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court in Malawi to have South Africa’s extradition request thrown out. “Yes, I confirm,” the couple’s lawyer, Wapona Kita, said, and when asked on what warranted this application, Kita responded: “It is on the grounds that the SADC (Southern African Development Community) protocol is not part of the laws of Malawi and therefore cannot be used as a legal basis for extradition.”
Following court proceedings in Malawi on Monday, Kita told the media that “as much as it (the SADC protocol) was signed, it has not been domesticated as part of the laws of Malawi.” According to Kita, this meant that Malawi’s Parliament had not agreed to the SADC protocol officially being part of Malawi’s laws. “… so it cannot be used in court as a basis to extradite someone,”
Kita said.Meanwhile, South African witnesses, whose statements are included in the extradition request for Bushiri and his wife Mary, must appear in the Malawi lower court, magistrate Patrick Chirwa ruled on Monday.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. The Bushiris were excused from Monday’s proceedings following the death of their eight-year-old daughter, Israella.
The couple is due back in court on 19 April. Bushiri and his wife, Mary, are wanted in South Africa on fraud and money laundering charges 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. South Africa subsequently sent a formal extradition request to Malawi, which was received by the Malawian government in December.