December 4, 2020

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Bushiri ‘escape’: Aaron Motsoaledi to answer to Parliament

3 min read

The Democratic Alliance (DA), in a statement, welcomed the decision by Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee in Home Affairs Bongani Bongo to have Minister Aaron Motsoaledi account to Parliament over the Bushiri couple.

Self-proclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary skipped the country and landed up in Malawi after being granted bail. Despite bail conditions preventing them from leaving the country, it was never adhered to. The Bushiris were arrested for their alleged involvement in a R100 million fraud and money laundering case just a few weeks ago. 

MOTSOALEDI TO ACCOUNT FOR BUSHIRI DEPARTURE BUT THAT’S NOT ALL

DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs Angel Khanyile said the party called on Motsoaledi to appear before Parliament, to not only answer for the Bushiri debacle but also to account for his Department’s “abject failure” to effectively manage South Africa’s ports of entry and departure.

In addition to the session in Parliament tomorrow, the DA also urges President Cyril Ramaphosa to engage his Malawian counterpart, President Lazarus Chakwera, on the incident to ensure effective cooperation between the two nations in the extradition process.

“There has been numerous unsubstantiated rumours and allegations that the Bushiris may have fled to their home country on board the Malawian president’s aircraft. And while both Pretoria and Lilongwe have denied these allegations, we urge President Ramaphosa to commission an investigation to test these allegations,” said Khanyile. 

INEFFICIENCIES WITHIN BORDER MANAGEMENT SYSTEM 

Khanyile said the Bushiri couples’ escape has laid bare the inefficiencies within the country’s border management system which resulted in wanted fugitives passing through them with ease and without detection. 

Khanyile said this was not only an indictment on Home Affairs but also on law enforcement agencies.

“This is of course not the first time that fugitives have fled our country under the cover of ‘diplomatic immunity’. In 2015, Omar al Bashar, managed to skip the country, despite facing charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes. And in 2017, the then Zimbabwean First Lady, Grace Mugabe, fled South Africa despite facing criminal charges over allegedly assaulting a model in a Johannesburg-hotel,” said Khanyile. 

Khanyile said Home Affairs and all the relevant departments such as International Relations, State Security, Police and the Department of Defence need to urgently come together to address the challenges facing our border management processes.

GCIS said it could confirm that the Bushiri couple did not leave South Africa aboard a flight on which Chakwera and his delegation travelled.

President Chakwera undertook a successful working visit to South Africa on Friday 13 November 2020, during which South Africa and Malawi discussed a broad range of initiatives to strengthen relations between the governments and peoples of the two countries.

“Following the visit, President Chakwera and his delegation departed from Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria and stopped over at OR Tambo International Airport to collect an additional number of officials who had travelled to South Africa earlier to prepare for the working visit,” said Phumla Williams.       

“Department of Home Affairs immigration officials verified the identities of all passengers and Mr and Ms Bushiri were not on the flight,” added Williams. 

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