LILONGWE. – The Magistrate Court yesterday said the arrest of millionaire preacher Shepherd Bushiri and his wife Mary was illegal and ordered their immediate release.
The couple was arrested by Malawian police, acting on a warrant from Interpol after fleeing SA, on Wednesday.
Delivering his judgment, acting chief resident magistrate Viva Nyimba said the arrest was illegal since the warrant of arrest was not channelled through the ministry of homeland security.
The state had opposed the Bushiris being released on bail by the courts in Malawi as they had already skipped bail in South Africa.
The state asked for them to be remanded in custody for 30 days while SA makes a formal extradition request.
But the defence countered that they should be released from custody.
Magistrate Nyimba said the court would act independently, and not be influenced by anything.
He said the arrest of the Bushiris was illegal as it did not follow proper procedure since there was no warrant of arrest from a court or authority from the minister.
Nyimba said the two voluntarily surrendered themselves to police and there was no risk that they would not comply with further obligations.
There was a commotion at court as the Bushiris arrived and people had to fight their way into the courtroom.
Meanwhile, South African Justice minister, Ronald Lamola yesterday said process to extradite the Bushiris had started.
Speaking at a post-cabinet briefing, Lamola said that Cabinet was pleased with the way the justice cluster was responding to the saga.
The couple fled to Malawi last week, breaching their bail conditions.
They face charges of fraud, theft and money-laundering.
A Centurion property, valued at R5,5-million and owned by the couple, has been forfeited to the state. — News Agencies ■