Home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi defended his department on Tuesday when MPs grilled him about the escape of controversial church leader Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary.
Motsoaledi said home affairs should not be solely blamed for the couple’s escape because the matter involves other government departments.
The Bushiris are a hot topic in SA after they announced they had skipped the country last week for Malawi, their home country, due to safety concerns.
The minister denied the couple may have escaped with the help of Malawi’s president, Lazarus Chakwera, who flew to SA last week for a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The Bushiris have five passports each
“I must emphasise that Mr Bushiri has five passports. None of them are South African. They were all issued in Malawi. We’ve got their passport numbers. Mrs Bushiri also has five passports.”
Not just a home affairs matter
“The matter of Bushiri, chairperson, is not solely a matter of home affairs, as many people have been saying. The whole security cluster is also involved, which means the department of home affairs, department of justice, the police together with the Hawks, the minister of state security, the minister of defence and the international relations and cooperation minister. All those clusters and ministers are involved in this matter.”
Investigating the Bushiris
“We got involved in this matter sometime last year when the Hawks were investigating cases of criminality, fraud, corruption and money laundering. In the course of that investigation, the Hawks came across identity documents that were problematic to them, that had lots of inconsistencies.”
The last time the Bushiris officially went through SA borders
“Our movement control system indicated the last time the Bushiris officially went through any port of entry was on January 19 2019, when they entered SA through OR Tambo International Airport. After January 2019, there is no movement that indicates any of the Bushiris went through any of our ports.”
Bushiris did not escape on Malawi president’s plane
“The passports were matched with the photos and faces of the members who were there and they went into the plane. Before the plane departed, it was definitely searched for the second time. Having convinced themselves there was no sign of Mr and Mrs Bushiri, the plane was allowed to depart.”
Our borders are porous
“It is common cause that we are suffering from porous borders in this country. We believe people who are a flight risk can go through any of our porous borders.”
By Cebelihle Bhengu