High-end vehicles, several luxury houses and a private jet belonging to controversial South Africa-based Malawian preacher, Shepherd Bushiri, are among the assets targeted by South Africa’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) in an apparent crackdown on the pastor’s “fraudulently acquired wealth”.
AFU, which is a branch of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), has now joined the legal fight against Bushiri and his wife, Mary, and the body has since filed a preservation order application, seeking to seize the couple’s assets, pending the finalisation of the criminal case against them, City Press says.
Two sources familiar with developments told City Press that the AFU had already filed an application at the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, seeking its permission to seize Bushiris’ luxury houses and cars, as well as the self-styled prophet’s Gulfstream private jet, which is parked in a private hangar at Lanseria Airport outside Johannesburg.
Bushiri and his wife, Mary, were arrested last Friday on suspicion of engaging in fraud and money laundering.
Other crimes the couple allegedly engaged in include contravening Exchange Control Regulations in relation to US$1,147,200 (Ksh114.9 million) worth of foreign currency, the Citizen reported.
The couple, who appeared in a Pretoria court on Wednesday denied the charges; and were freed on cash bail of R100, 000 (Ksh744, 000) each.
The Friday arrest of Bushiri and Mary came in the wake of the death of three women in a stampede at his Enlightened Christian Gathering (ECG) church during a service on December 28, 2018.
At least 17 other congregants were injured as they ran 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 native country Malawi.
In April, 2018, Sunday World reported that Bushiri was apparently making so much money from his churches in South Africa that he was able to send R15million (Ksh112 million) a month back to his home in Malawi.