PROPHET Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary have never had proper documents to be in SA and did not have the legal right to operate businesses in the country.
These are the revelations made by home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi before the portfolio committee overseeing his department in parliament on Tuesday.
Motsoaledi said home affairs got involved with the Bushiris last year when the Hawks were investigating the case of money laundering against the couple.
He told the committee that the home affairs’ movement control system shows Mary entered the country in 2012 through OR Tambo International Airport and produced a permanent residence permit which she claimed was issued to her in 1997.
“Obviously this is surprising because people don’t just get permanent residence permit when they enter for the first time here. She produced it and said it was given to her in 1997. On our movement control system we don’t have any record of her entering the country in 1997,” Motsoaledi said.
“Mr Bushiri himself entered South Africa round about 2009. But the real movement control system indicates 2013. So we take 2013 as authentic because it is recorded officially. In 2014, 2015, 2016 Mr Bushiri registered companies and started conducting business. At this juncture, Mr Bushiri should have applied for a business visa as is demanded by the law. This means the businesses he was running were not within the law.”
Motsoaledi said in 2016, the Bushiris applied for permanent residence permits in SA. “They declared under oath that they entered South Africa for the first time in 2015. They were granted these permanent residence permits in 2016 which I must state this was issued irregularly because there was misrepresentation of facts. This matter is being investigated.”
Motsoaledi said it was for that reason that home affairs notified the Bushiris earlier this year that their status in the country would be revoked.
The Bushiris then went to court last month and asked that the home affairs move be suspended until their plea on their money laundering case for which they were arrested in October.
The court granted them their wishes. However, home affairs has appealed that decision. Judgment on the home affairs appeal was reserved on Friday.
Motsoaledi said currently Bushiri and his wife have five passports, all of which were issued in Malawi.
Bushiri and his wife escaped to Malawi last week, leaving the nation angry and demanding answers from the government.
Bushiri and his co-accused, Mary, Landiwe Ntlokwana Zethu and Willie Mudolo, are facing charges of theft, money laundering and fraud in connection with an alleged R106m investment scheme.
The Bushiris were released on R200,000 bail each on November 4 after their arrest last month. One of their bail conditions was that they were barred from travelling outside SA and only permitted to travel in Gauteng and the North West.
On Monday the Pretoria magistrate’s court issued a warrant of arrest for the couple after the government indicated it would initiate an extradition process for Bushiri and his wife to come and answer for their alleged crimes in SA.– sowetanlive.co.za