The self-proclaimed Prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary could lose their permanent residence in South Africa as it has turned out they fraudulently acquired it.
The Malawian born preacher established the Enlightened Christian Gathering church in South Africa’s administrative capital Pretoria and has seen the church’s branches mushroom across the country thanks to his antics and ‘miracles’.
Home affairs officials who served notices to the pair during their time of application have been suspended by the department pending an investigation.
Mary Bushiri was arrested on the 19th of October at the family’s some shortly after receiving a notice requiring her and husband to report to the Hawks‘ Pretoria branch before 11 am according to the statement by the church.
Learning about his wife’s arrest, Bushiri handed himself to the Hawks and they have both been in custody since then. The charges against Bushiri and his wife keep pilling up by the day, signalling the beginning of the end of his church business in one of Africa’s biggest economies.
The church leaders were initially charged with fraud, money laundering, and theft, but the charges are set to increase and include contravening certain provisions of the Immigration Act.
According to Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, the couple arrived in South Africa using the visitor’s Visas in 2009. Whilst on visitors’ visas, the couple started registering companies and conducting business, something that is not allowed according to the law.
Bushiri could be charged for conducting business whilst on visitors’ Visa. The Minister went on to reveal Bushiri misrepresented in his application or permanent residence when he revealed he arrived in the country in 2015 when in actual fact he arrived six years earlier in 2009.
With regards to Mary Bushiri, she entered the country with her husband in 2009, and later re-entered in 2012. The self-proclaimed Prophetess produced a 1997 issued permanent residency visa, long before she even entered the country.
The department has since issued the couple with a notice to explain their immigration discrepancies.