South Africa: Motsoaledi Must Account for Bushiri's Escape

press release

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes with concern reports that the controversial self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife, Mary, managed to flee South Africa while expected to stand trial for allegations of fraud, theft, and money laundering to the value of R102 million. Bushiri and his wife were arrested in October and were each granted bail of R200 000 earlier this month on condition that they would remain in the country to appear in court.

According to reports the pair allegedly fled South Africa for Malawi, crossing the border illegally after bribing Home Affairs officials. This is a serious indictment on the role of Home Affairs and border control to effectively police South Africa's ports of entry and secure the movement of individuals to and from our country.

More worryingly, Bushiri's escape brings into question the security and safety of our nation given how easily border management systems can be manipulated by corruption and bribery, especially in light of reports of insurgents led by religious extremists in neighbouring countries such as Mozambique.

The DA calls on The Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to appear before Parliament to account for his Department's abject failure to effectively manage South Africa's ports of entry and departure, which have rendered our borders so porous that even wanted fugitives can pass through them with ease. The Minister must tell South Africa how:

Bushiri was granted South African citizenship; and

How the pair escaped the country without passports considering that their documents were supposedly handed over to the NPA when they were granted bail.

The fact that two individuals wanted for grave crimes have managed to flee our country so effortlessly is a slap in the face to the millions of South African citizens deserving of swift justice for this crime. There is evidently nothing stopping criminals from evading justice in South Africa by border-hopping when Home Affairs has no control over who enters and leaves our country.

The ANC-led national government must urgently begin the process to extradite Bushiri to South Africa. Bushiri is now a fugitive on the run, and government cannot allow porous borders and corruption within border management to deny citizens justice in this matter.

As the DA, we remain committed not only to ensuring that our borders are tight and that South Africa is safe, but bringing to book those who have committed grave acts of crime in our country no matter where in the world they may have fled. South Africa deserves justice and the DA demands this of government in the interests of our citizens and their safety.

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