Pretoria – Self-proclaimed prophet Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary yesterday appeared briefly in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, where their trial was postponed until next year.
The couple will be tried from May 31 to June 18 on charges of fraud and money laundering amounting to more than R15 million. This follows their arrest on February 1 last year by the Hawks.
The leader of the Enlightened Christian Gathering and his wife were at the time released on R100 000 bail each by the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. Their case was transferred to the high court.
The couple is also accused of contravening South Africa’s exchange control regulations by paying about R19m for a private jet.
Bushiri is fighting tooth and nail not to lose his jet which was preserved last year.
The office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions has its eye on him having to forfeit the plane.
But Bushiri, in a lengthy affidavit before the court, earlier explained that the plane was bought with legitimate proceeds from his work.
He is blaming a conspiracy and a vendetta by some people against him due to his popularity as one of the reasons why charges of fraud and money laundering have been brought against him and his wife.
The charges led to the preservation order in regards to the jet, which was granted in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
The prosecution claimed that the aircraft was “the proceeds of unlawful activities” and instrumental in the alleged crimes Bushiri was said to have committed.