As the diplomatic fall-out between Pretoria and Lilongwe over the circumstances surrounding the bolting of controversial Malawian “prophet” Shepherd Bushiri from South Africa plays out this week, sources close to the embattled church leader say he is likely to claim that he and his wife Mary used super-natural means to return to their home country.
The sources said while it is now known that a lot of money changed hands as many people obviously facilitated Bushiri’s escape, in the likely event that he is extradited to face the music in South Africa, Bushiri and his army of lawyers will protect those who helped him in his flight by claiming that he used super-natural mode of transport to go to Malawi.
“There is no way that they would reveal how they travelled to Malawi because this would put many people into very serious trouble so they would have to come up with a story about some super-natural mode of transport – even including winnowing baskets – used in their flight and simply stick to it,” the source told the Zimbabwenewslive.
Malawians, together with other Africans, are believed to use various supernatural modes of transport such as flying in winnowing baskets (rusero/tsero) to travel for long distances. The sources said that the duo could also claim that whirlwind or any other form of transport that cannot be explained in ordinary terms carried them.
“If he says this, it would be upto to South African authorities to prove him wrong, otherwise the alternative is to put many people, especially in South Africa, in hot soup,” the source added.
At the weekend there were angry suggestions that Bushiri and his wife were smuggled out on President Lazarus Chakwera’s presidential flight on Friday night at the end of the Malawian leader’s two-day working visit to South Africa. Chawera’s office has however stridently denied giving the two fugitives a ride.
Bushiri and his wife were arrested in late October on charges of fraud and money laundering involving R102 million (about US$ 6 million) before being released on a R200 000 bail each, coupled with stringent conditions that included surrender of their travel documents, confinement to Gauteng and North West provinces of South Africa, among other conditions.
On Saturday Bushiri announced that he and his wife had left South Africa for security reasons, saying their lives were in danger as evidenced by what he claimed to have been an assassination attempt on him.
President Chakwera is now under severe diplomatic pressure to extricate himself from the messy diplomatic tiff by facilitating Bushiri’s return to South Africa, failure of which may only serve to raise more suspicions to his possible role in the debacle.