The Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) leader Shepherd Bushiri, a self-proclaimed prophet, and his wife Mary are in South Africa Illegally, said Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Monday. Motsoaledi said the couple first entered the country on 06 September 2009 at the Beitbridge border post and were issued with visitors’ visas.
“We don’t stop people from visiting our country. Visitors’ visas have a time frame – you can stay for 90 days or 30 days…because you’re a visitor,” the minister said. While Bushiri was in South Africa in 2014, 2015, and 2016, he registered companies with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC). “This is not allowed in terms of the [conditions of] the visitors’ visa. in 2012, Mary Bushiri entered South Africa through the OR Tambo International Airport, [where] she produced a fraudulent permanent resident’s permit, which was issued on 01 February 1997,” said the Minister.
“Now, if you came to South Africa for the first time on 6 September 2009, how can you already have a permanent residency status dating 1997? But then, on 17 May 2016, both Shepherd Bushiri and his wife applied for permanent residency. Remember, his wife has already shown us a permanent residency permit dated February 1997.” According to Motsoaledi, when the Bushiri’s made the application for residency, they declared under oath that they first entered the country in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has suspended the Department of Home Affairs’ permanent residence notice against Bushiri and his wife until they plead in their criminal trial. Judge Brenda Neukircher ruled on 20 October the notice will have to wait until Bushiri and wife have pleaded to charges of fraud and money laundering to the value of R102 million, and to the contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
The discrepancies in the couple’s visa applications were first discovered when they were investigated for the charges of fraud and money laundering. Two notices were issued to the Bushiri’s to explain the details of their permanent residency applications, but both notices were “mysteriously withdrawn by our own officials in Home Affairs”. “I’m saying ‘mysteriously’ because I still don’t understand why these notices were withdrawn,” Motsoaledi said. He added that officials from his department were “absolutely” involved in irregularities surrounding the Bushiri application.