South Africa has issued an arrest warrant for a controversial millionaire preacher who faces fraud charges after he fled to his native country, Malawi, in breach of strict bail conditions, police said.
Shepherd Bushiri, a self-proclaimed prophet known for his “miracles” and wildly extravagant lifestyle, was granted bail in South Africa where he lives, in a case of alleged fraud and money laundering. He is co-accused along with his wife, Mary Bushiri.
“A warrant of arrest has been issued this morning by the Pretoria magistrates court for the two fugitives,” Katlego Mogale, acting spokeswoman for the elite police unit known as the Hawks, said in a statement on Monday.
Bushiri had said on Saturday he had fled South Africa as he feared for his life.
In recent days, media reports claimed that the Bushiris fled the country with Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera, who was on a two-day official visit to South Africa during which he held talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Both the Malawian and South African governments have refuted the claims, saying that immigration officials verified the identities of all passengers on the presidential flight on Friday.
The couple’s bail has been cancelled and they will each forfeit the 200,000 rand ($13,000) they had individually posted.
South Africa has initiated a process to extradite them from Malawi, the government announced at the weekend.
The Malawian president said he would not intervene in the case.
“He will leave it to state institutions to do their job,” Chakwera’s spokesman Brian Banda told AFP news agency.
The preacher has made his wealth from donations from followers of his Enlightened Christian Gathering church in Pretoria.
He also has investments in the mining, telecommunications and luxury sectors.