World News

Malawi police arrest pastor wanted in South Africa for fraud, money-laundering

LILONGWE (Reuters) - Malawi police arrested pastor and businessman Shepard Bushiri on Wednesday after he skipped bail in South Africa and fled to his home country, law enforcement agents said.

Bushiri, who describes himself as a prophet, has a big social media following and a lifestyle that includes expensive clothes, mansions and sports cars. He claims to be able to cure HIV and blindness and also promises to deliver his followers from poverty.

He and his wife Mary were awaiting trial on charges of money-laundering, theft and fraud in South Africa, but it emerged over the weekend that they had been smuggled out of the country to Malawi’s capital Lilongwe, according to the BBC.

That prompted a South African court to issue two warrants for Bushiri’s arrest. There has been a simmering diplomatic row between Malawi and South Africa over who was to blame for his escape.

Bushiri was arrested by South African police in October and released on 100,000 rand ($6,500) bail soon after.

On Wednesday Malawi police said his arrest was in response to a warrant issued by Interpol on Monday.

“The police launched a manhunt yesterday to arrest the couple. However, the Prophet and his wife handed themselves over to the Police at Area 30, Wednesday, November 18, 2020 when they got wind of their impending arrest,” said Senior Superintendent James Kadadzera of the Malawi Police Service said in a statement.

Reporting by Frank Phiri; Writing by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Angus MacSwan