Bushiri saga shouldn’t affect SA-Malawi relations, says Parliament

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation has expressed concern over the potential effect the Bushiris’ escape may have on diplomatic relations between South Africa and Malawi.

In a statement, committee chairperson, Tandi Mahambehlala, said it was important that relevant departments in both jurisdictions resolve the matter expeditiously.

“It cannot be appropriate for Mr Bushiri to pit regional trade partners against each other. Malawi and South Africa historically have strong bilateral and regional ties that ought to be strengthened and respected,”

Paliament’s International Relations and Cooperation Committee chairperson, Tandi Mahambehlala

Mahambehlala further took aim at Bushiri for claiming he was a victim of xenophobia and said his remarks could potentially compromise South Africa at a time when it should lead recovery of regional economies.

Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary are officially fugitives from justice after fleeing the country for their native Malawi on Wednesday, 11 November 2020. ‘Major One’, as he is known to his followers, announced on Saturday, 14 November, that he and his family were now in their home country.

They were each released on R200 000 bail by the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court after being in police custody for more than two weeks. The Bushiris along with three co-accused face charges of fraud and money laundering to the tune of R102 million. Some of their bail conditions included that they hand in their passports and report to their nearest police station on Mondays and Fridays between 6am and 6pm.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), also known as the Hawks, have also issued a warrant for their arrest.

DA: Bushiri’s escape exposed flaws in SA’s border management

She further called on people not to lend credence to a story about the Malawian President smuggling Bushiri out of the country at the conclusion of his State visit on Friday last week.

“This matter has been clarified by both countries and if perpetuated further, it may unjustly compromise President Lazarus Chakwera,” she said.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) intends calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to engage his Malawian counterpart, President Lazarus Chakwera, on the Bushiris’ escape to ensure effective cooperation between the two nations in the extradition process.

“The Bushiris’ escape has laid bare the inefficiencies within our border management system which resulted in wanted fugitives passing through them with ease and without detection. This was not only an indictment on Home Affairs but also on our law enforcement agencies,” said DA MP Angel Khanyile.