Malawi born but South Africa-based Pastor Shepherd Bushiri could lose his private jet after National Director of Public Prosecutions head Shamila Batohi successfully applied for a court order to have the prophet forfeit the aircraft to the state, APA learnt on Monday.
North Gauteng High Court Judge Takalani Raulinga, sitting in Pretoria, has granted the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) a preservation order against Bushiri, stating in the order to interested parties that “if you have interest in the aircraft, you should understand that it is now at risk.”
The preservation order was granted in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (Poca) as the NPA said it suspected the aircraft was “the proceeds of unlawful activities” and was instrumental in committing the crimes Bushiri is accused of by the state.
The 1984 Gulfstream III Model 1159 aircraft is being held at Lanseria Airport north of Johannesburg, according to court records.
The court issued the preservation order to Shepherd Bushiri Investments or anyone else interested in the aircraft.
On his part, Bushiri’s ECG has accused the police of demanding bribes from the 700,000-member church, and that the case is a personal vendetta against the pastor.
The Hawks deny this.
Bushiri, aged 35, and his 37-year-old wife Mary were arrested more than two weeks ago by the police crack unit, the Hawks, after being accused of fraud, money-laundering and contravention of Poca, which were allegedly committed from 2015 – the year he set up his Enlightened Christian Gathering Church in the country.
The couple are accused of flouting exchange control regulations relating to foreign currency of more than US$1.14million.
The Bushiris have several businesses in South Africa and abroad and appeared before the Pretoria Commercial Crime Court, where they were each released on $7,000 bail last week.
The couple return to court in May.