Self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary were due to appear in the North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria on Monday, facing charges including money laundering, fraud and contravention of the Prevention of the Organised Crime Act.
The charismatic leader of the popular Enlightened Christian Gathering church and his wife were released by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in February last year on R100 000 bail each, after spending days in prison. The cases against the couple were later transferred to the high court for trial.
The couple is also accused of contravening South Africa’s exchange control regulations by paying about R19 million for a private jet.
During their appearances at the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court last year, thousands of Bushiri’s followers – who refer to the preacher as “Major 1” -picketed outside the court, pleading his innocence. Busy streets around the court were closed to traffic.
Ahead of the high-flying couple’s high court appearance on Monday, Bushiri’s spokesman Ephraim Nyondo urged church members attending the proceedings to adhere to South Africa’s Covid-19 regulations.
“The Enlightened Christian Gathering church would like appeal to its members, followers and partners to keep calm and be in prayer as our leaders, Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and Prophetess Mary Bushiri, appear before the Pretoria High Court,” Nyondo said.
“In the wake of Covid-19, the church wishes to advise all those who will be standing with our leaders on Monday to observe and adhere to set health regulations of your respective countries. Further, the church would also like to extend its deepest appreciation to those that have been sending messages of solidarity though the hash tag #IstandWithMajor1. Keep on.”