Bushiri fraud case postponed

Throngs of congregants have shown their support for Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church leader Shepherd Bushiri outside the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court in South Africa on Monday.

Prophet Bushiri will spend two more nights behind bars after he was remanded in custody until Wednesday for bail hearing.

Bushiri and his wife Mary were arrested on Friday in Rustenburg on fraud and money laundering charges.

Police say they will be looking to make more arrests.

Last year, reports emerged that the church leader had been sending about R15-million per month to his home country, Malawi.

The money was being transported in his private jet.

The arrest of Bushiri and his wife comes at a bad time for the religious leader.

Bushiri and his church have been at the centre of controversy after the death of three women in a stampede at his ECG church during a service on December 28. At least 17 other congregants were injured after running for shelter during a heavy rainstorm.

In the aftermath of the incident, the South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) led protests at the ECG, with community members calling for the church to be expelled from the Pretoria showgrounds and for Bushiri to be deported to his home country Malawi.

A report after an inquiry by the CRL Rights Commission, however, cleared Bushiri of negligence, finding that the event where the tragedy took place was compliant with municipal bylaws and the Safety at Sports and Recreation Events Act (SSRE Act).

(additional reporting by The citizen and enca)

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