Cape Town – Magistrate Patrick Chirwa ruled in the Lilongwe Magistrate's Court on Monday that to uphold the rights of the Bushiris, South African witnesses would have to testify in Malawi.
He agreed with self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary’s legal team that the State should not have relied on the statements of witnesses sent from another country, which are included in the extradition request, without questioning the witnesses directly, Jacaranda FM reported.
Chirwa also said the State violated the couple’s rights when it did not read the charges against them. He added that the accused have a right to interview and question the witnesses.
The State have been given two weeks to file an application opposing it. It said one of the charges is related to sexual violence and the testimonies of the accusers must be protected.
’’Witnesses (should come), those witnesses, if they choose to come, we expect them to come so that we can cross-examine them according to the law," Bushiri’s lawyer, Wapona Kita, told the media after court proceedings, News24 reported.
The case has been postponed for two weeks to allow the Bushiris to mourn the death of their 8-year-old daughter, Israella, who passed away on Monday in a Kenyan hospital.
Chirwa further noted that "this should be the last application/preliminary objection on this matter unless something extremely compelling comes up".
The Bushiris are wanted in South Africa in connection with fraud and money laundering, allegedly amounting to R102 million. They fled the country a few days after the Pretoria Magistrate's Court granted them bail of R200 000 each.