Malawi-born South African-based controversial pastor Shepherd Bushiri, who is under police custody over laundering charges, is being prosecuted because he is a successful black business man, an opposition leader alleged on Monday.
Bushiri, aged 35, and his 37-year-old wife Mary, were arrested by the South African police in Rustenburg on February 1. The couple appeared briefly in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Monday before the court postponed hearing to Wednesday, just to "harass and demonise" him.
“We know that the Major One (Bushiri) is being prosecuted by this South African government because he is a black man who is successful from his own efforts and blessings from his God," opposition Black First Land First (BFLF) party leader Andile Mngxitama said on Monday.
Mngxitama was speaking to protesting congregants of Bushiri’s Enlightened Christian Gathering church who came in thousands to sing and dance in support of their pastor outside the court in Pretoria.
"As BFLF, we stand with Major One. This is a systematic attack on the church and the prophet," the BFLF leader said, adding that the church was under attack because black people were leaving "white established churches because there was no spirituality" in those churches.
Mngxitama alleged that the government of President Cyril Ramaphosa was being used to bring down Bushiri’s name and the church’s name.
"Now these white churches, using our government, are trying to destroy these independent black churches. We say to our government that it must stop doing this. It must allow black people to thrive," Mngxitama said.
According to the young leader, the country’s political parties and their leaders have now turned their backs on the prophet now that he was "in trouble", even though they were the very same people who came to Bushiri to seek blessings from him.
The ECG church of the highly popular pastor, fondly known as the Major One, has 700,000 members in South Africa whose Pretoria branch opened in 2015.