Prophet Shepherd Bushiri of the Enlightened Christian Gathering Church. (Veli Nhlapo, Gallo Images, file)
- Home Affairs has suspended two senior officials involved in serving Shepherd Bushiri and his wife with permanent residence notices.
- While their suspensions were for unrelated matters, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said it reportedly raised questions about their involvement in the Bushiri matter.
- The latest notice for the Enlightened Christian Gathering leader and his wife was suspended by a court until they pleaded in their criminal trial.
Two senior Home Affairs officials involved in serving Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary with notices from the department have been suspended.
According to Home Affairs spokesperson Siyabulela Qoza, the officials were suspended for unrelated wrongdoing.
However, Home Affairs Minister Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said this had now raised questions about their involvement in the Bushiri matter, eNCA reported.
On Wednesday, 21 October, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria suspended the department’s notice, until after the Bushiris pleaded in their criminal trial.
READ| Court suspends permanent residence notice against Bushiri
The couple faced charges of fraud, and money laundering to the value of R102 million, and for being in contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
“Prophet Shepard Bushiri and his wife entered South Africa for the first time on 6 September 2009,” Motsoaledi said in a media briefing broadcast by eNCA.
Motsoaledi said they were issued visitor’s visas, however, while Bushiri was in South Africa in 2014, 2015 and 2016, he registered companies with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).
He said this was in contravention of immigration laws and what was allowed under a visitor’s visa.
“That is a chargeable offence already.”
“In 2012, Mary Bushiri entered South Africa through the OR Tambo International Airport, [where] she produced a permanent resident’s visa, which, according to her, was given on 1 February 1997,” added Motsoaledi.
After their release on bail in another matter last year, the Bushiris were issued with a notice by a Home Affairs official on 6 February 2019, calling them for an interview, according to court papers.
This notice was subsequently withdrawn.On 15 February 2019, the official then issued a second notice which was also subsequently withdrawn.
A third notice was issued on 26 March 2019. This notice was eventually set aside by a court on 2 August 2020, who also declared it irrational, unlawful and invalid.
The latest notice was served on Bushiri and his wife on 3 August 2020, based on the evidence of two Home Affairs officials.
“The gist of the evidence is that they contend that the applicant’s applications for permanent residence status were captured and granted by DHA [Department of Home Affairs] officials in terms of an incorrect section of the Act which occurred as a result of certain commissions or omissions on the applicant and his wife’s part. All this seems to be tied up with the charges before the criminal court,” High Court Judge Brenda Neukircher said in a ruling suspending the notice.